Singapore and Hong Kong drop travel bubble plan

Out-Law News | 24 Aug 2021 | 12:15 am | 1 min. read

Singapore and Hong Kong have decided to drop their plan to create an air travel bubble (ATB) because their Covid-19 policies differ too much.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said that the planned ATB was based on the two cities pursuing similar strategies to deal with the pandemic, aiming to reduce local caseloads to a minimum. With Singapore moving towards a new strategy of building a "Covid-resilient" nation, the basis of the agreement changed. Travel between the two countries will now take place under their respective border control measures.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said border restrictions will be progressively eased for all travel from Hong Kong and Macau from 21 August.

Short-term visitors with travel history to Hong Kong or Macao in the 21 days prior to their departure for Singapore can apply for an Air Travel Pass with immediate effect, for entry into Singapore on or after 26 August 2021. They will be tested at the airport and will be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore if the test result is negative. They will not need to serve a seven day Stay Home Notice with a Covid-19 test before the end of the Stay Home Notice period.

The HKSAR on 16 August announced that the quarantine requirements for people arriving from 16 overseas places would be tightened considering current Covid-19 situation.

Travelers from Singapore going to Hong Kong will have to follow rules required for arrivals from countries considered as medium-risk for Covid-19.

From 20 August, fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents and non-Hong Kong residents from medium risk places will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival, followed by a seven-day self-monitoring period. Unvaccinated non-residents are not allowed to get back to Hong Kong from medium-risk countries, while unvaccinated Hong Kong residents will be requested to undergo a 21-day of hotel quarantine with six tests.

Singapore and Hong Kong originally reached an ATB agreement last November and designated flights were planned to start in the same month. The launch of the ATB was delayed in view of the epidemic situation in Hong Kong.

They reached a revised ATB agreement in April and planned to take off in May, which was also postponed due to a sudden rise of Covid-19 cases in Singapore. There was a subsequent agreement for the ATB to be renewed in July, but this was against postponed.

Mayumi Soh of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “Both governments have committed to facilitating connectivity between the two places, even if there is no air travel bubble in place.”