Nov. 22, 2020, 8:16 a.m.
Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed the start of an air bubble meant to boost tourism in the two cities, citing a spike in infections in Chinese territory as a sober reminder of the risks to public health. The travel bubble, which was originally scheduled to start on Sunday, will be delayed for at least two weeks, Hong Kong Trade and Economic Development Minister Edward Yau said at a press conference on Saturday.
The arrangement aims to allow travelers between the two cities to enter without quarantine as long as they complete coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destination and fly on designated flights. Hong Kong reported 43 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, including 13 local infections not found.
“For any program to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of ensuring public health and also making sure that both parties would be comfortable and feel safe with the program,” Yau said. In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think this is the responsible way to put this off for a while and then relaunch it at a convenient time.
Under the original deal, the travel bubble was to be suspended if the number of local infections not found in Singapore or Hong Kong exceeded five on a seven-day moving average. The current average in Hong Kong is nearly four, prompting Yau and Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung to postpone the maiden flight.
Hong Kong’s top health official said on Friday the city had likely entered a new wave of cases. Recent clusters include taxi drivers, a dance studio, and hotels. Hong Kong has confirmed a total of 5,561 cases, including 108 deaths. Singapore has reported 58,148 cases, but only 28 deaths.
Ahead of the postponement, Singapore said on Saturday morning that travelers arriving from Hong Kong via the bubble would be required to take a coronavirus test on arrival. Originally, only people disembarking in Hong Kong had to be tested.
Ong said in a Facebook post that the postponement is a “sober reminder that the COVID-19[feminine le virus est toujours avec nous. » Je peux parfaitement comprendre la déception et la frustration des voyageurs qui ont planifié leurs voyages. Mais nous pensons qu’il vaut mieux différer du point de vue de la santé publique, a-t-il écrit.
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