Hong Kong, Singapore travel bubble delayed by COVID-19 surge

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The travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong's minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference.

Moreover, all global passengers are required to undergo a post-flight COVID-19 test at the Hong Kong airport.

Singapore and Hong Kong on Saturday postponed the start of an air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, citing a spike in infections in the Chinese territory as a "sober reminder" of risks to public health. "We will review within two weeks on the new launch date and update again", Ong said.

As per the norms, only those travellers are allowed to land in Hong Kong who have a negative Coronavirus certificate from a test performed within 72 hours before the scheduled trip. "But we think it is better to defer from a public health standpoint", he wrote.

"We will make further announcements perhaps by early December on the formal launching of the scheme", he added.

The new requirement is added as COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong have been surging over the past few days, according to the CAAS.

Hong Kong has been spared the dramatic escalation of coronavirus cases seen in other major cities, but the rise was big by its standards, with daily cases having mostly been in the single-digits or low double-digits in recent weeks.

Hong Kong, alongside Singapore, was lauded by public health officials for its response early into the pandemic.

Under the terms of the travel bubble, the arrangement would be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked cases exceeds five per day in either city.

"I should have travelled two weeks ago with home quarantine instead of waiting for this bubble flight", she lamented.

SIA and Cathay Pacific said customers may request a full refund for their flights with cancellation fees waived.

Cathay Pacific said passengers can opt to reschedule their flights at no cost.

Prior to the postponement, Singapore said Saturday morning that travellers arriving from Hong Kong via the bubble would be required to take a coronavirus test on arrival.

Travelers under the ATB from Hong Kong will only be required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test and obtain a negative test result before departing for Singapore on the basis of the previous rules.

Travellers between Singapore and Hong Kong will have to take Covid-19 tests, in lieu of serving quarantine or stay-home notices.

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