S'pore and Hong Kong 'finalising details' of air travel bubble, hope to announce plans soon: Ong Ye Kung

Singapore and Hong Kong have been actively discussing plans to start the air travel bubble.
Singapore and Hong Kong have been actively discussing plans to start the air travel bubble.PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG, REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Details of an arrangement to restart all forms of travel between Singapore and Hong Kong without quarantine are being finalised, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday (April 14).

Mr Ong said the two cities have been actively discussing plans to start the air travel bubble, which was initially slated to take off in November last year.

"We are finalising the details of our revised agreement and hope to announce our plans soon," he said in a statement issued by the Ministry of Transport.

The much-delayed travel bubble, which is the first of its kind for both cities, was postponed late last year after a spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. But talks on belatedly starting the arrangement have progressed as the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong has improved in recent months.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam had said on Tuesday (April 13) that she expects "an early indication of agreement between the two sides" on the travel bubble.

She also said that it will be mandatory for travellers from Hong Kong heading to Singapore to be vaccinated, even though this is not a requirement imposed by Singapore.

"The basis for discussion with Singapore is that people leaving Hong Kong and entering Singapore need to be vaccinated," said Mrs Lam.

"We want to provide incentives to encourage Hong Kong citizens to get vaccinated."

Under the original agreement between Singapore and Hong Kong, passengers must test negative for Covid-19 before they can board the direct flights.

Both cities had previously agreed that the arrangement would be suspended if the seven-day average of unlinked Covid-19 cases in either city exceeded five.

Over the past week, Hong Kong has been recording two or three local infections daily. There were 13 new cases on Tuesday, of which three were local. Hong Kong has more than 11,600 Covid-19 cases and 207 deaths in all.

Meanwhile, Singapore has recorded two new Covid-19 cases in the community per week in the past two weeks.

It had a total of 60,692 cases as at Tuesday noon. Of these, 30 patients died from Covid-19 complications, while 15 who tested positive died of other causes.