By Will Lee
Hong Kong and Singapore Travel Bubble Bursts
In the wake of new strategy for dealing Covid-19 in Singapore, the travel bubble agreement between Hong Kong and Singapore has burst, both governments have announced.
Singapore’s government has granted Hong Kong residents the ability enter the country without quarantining as a result of the low infection rate in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s government welcomes the latest arrangement. However, the travelers must take 14 days quarantine upon arriving in Hong Kong.
The travel bubble was slated to launch last November, but the scheme was deferred after both cities suffered from a surge in coronavirus cases at the time.
Both cities welcomed the arrangement when the travel bubble eventually rolled out. According to a travel agency in Hong Kong, air tickets were sold out quickly after the flight announcements were confirmed.
S. Iswaran, Transport Minister of Singapore, said, “We will not be able to launch or sustain the air travel bubble in its present from.”
Considering the seven days rolling average of unlinked local cases, the framework of the travel bubble may not be kept consistently at the required level in Singapore.
“Both sides are focused on keeping our populations safe and minimizing the risk of imported cases,” Iswaran added. Both cities have committed to facilitating travel between each other.
Two vibrant Asian hubs are carrying out the different Covid strategies at the moment. Singapore is trying to “live with covid,” and Hong Kong is trying to eradicate the virus before opening its border.
Earlier, Singapore eased its travel restrictions and opened its travel lane to travelers from New Zealand, Taiwan, Macau, China, Australia and Vietnam, who don’t have to quarantine after entering the country. However, Australia and Vietnam are suspended because of the surged cases in the country. In addition, Singapore has announced that Germany and Brunei will be added to its travel lane in September.
Hong Kong has one of the most restrictive Covid-19 policies in the world. Most travelers have to quarantine for 14 days or more after entering Hong Kong. New Zealand is the only low-risk country, but even fully vaccinated travelers from New Zealand also need to quarantine for seven days in a designated quarantine hotel after their arrival. Hong Kong’s government shows so sign of lifting the restrictions.
Singapore and Hong Kong have a similar problems: neither cities has domestic travel. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have suffered badly from the coronavirus. Although the Chinese domestic market is gradually recovered, Cathay Pacific hasn’t benefited from the recovery.
According to Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong-based airline operated only 7.1% of its July 2019 pre-pandemic passenger capacity, and the load factor in July was 28.5%, already the highest number over the past 12 months.
The struggling airline is looking forward to operating 30% of pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the fourth quarter of 2021.