After having brought a second wave of coronavirus infections under control, two leading economies in Hong Kong and Singapore have agreed to open an air travel bubble that allows residents to travel between each country without having to quarantine.
Previously – amid a rapid rise of infections globally – both Singapore and Hong Kong shut their borders, denying entry to most non-residents and short-term visitors. Hong Kong undertook more stringent measures requiring returning residents to undergo a 14-day quarantine and took innovative measures to ensure compliance to movement rules.
Under the new arrangements, travellers are required to have tested negative for Covid-19 using a mutually recognised testing regime. Singapore and Hong Kong, alongside the United Arab Emirates, are among a number of leading economies to have introduced airport testing to ensure that the virus cannot be transmitted on its air routes.
While a date has not been set as to when the travel bubble will be operational, the agreement to permit movement between Hong Kong and Singapore has been warmly welcomed by officials.
‘This is a milestone in our efforts to resume normalcy while fighting against the long-drawn battle of Covid-19’ said Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development. His views were echoed by Singapore’s Transport Secretary Ong Ye Kung, who described the resumption of quarantine free travel as a ‘safe, careful but significant step forward to revive air travel, and provide a model for future collaboration with other parts of the world’.
The opening the travel bubble comes as countries look to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic and is a vital and lucrative travel route. According to the Singaporean Government, Hong Kong is the country’s fifth largest trading partner with total bilateral trade totalling US$52 billion in 2018, where Singaporean businesses comprise the fourth largest source of investment into Hong Kong.