The air travel bubble has been postponed for at least two weeks after Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.
A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore, originally scheduled to start on Sunday, has been postponed due to a surge in infections in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
The air travel bubble, which aims to boost tourism for both cities, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong Minister for Trade and Economic Development Edward Yau said at a press conference on Saturday.
The agreement aims to allow travelers between the two cities to enter without quarantine, as long as they conduct coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destination and fly on certain flights.
Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 undetectable local infections.
“For a program to be successful, they must meet the public health condition and ensure that both parties are comfortable and safe about the program,” Yau said.
“Given the situation in Hong Kong, I think this is the responsible way of putting this on hold for a while and then restarting it at an appropriate time.”
The plan will be revised in December, he added.
According to the original agreement, the travel bubble should be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in Singapore or Hong Kong exceeded five on a seven-day moving average. The current average in Hong Kong is close to four, prompting Yau and Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung to postpone the maiden flight.
On Friday, Hong Kong’s top health official said the city was “likely to have entered a new wave of cases”. The most recent clusters included 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.
Prior to the postponement, Singapore announced on Saturday morning that travelers arriving from Hong Kong via the bladder will need to have a coronavirus test upon arrival. Originally, only people who land in Hong Kong should have to be tested.
Ong said in a Facebook post that the postponement is a “sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us”.
“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travelers who have planned their trips. However, we think it’s better to postpone from a public health perspective, ”he wrote.