HONG KONG – A proposed “travel bubble” between Hong Kong and Singapore that would have seen the resumption of direct flights between the two cities Asian financial centers has been suspended for at least two weeks following a recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the Chinese Special Administrative Region, the Hong Kong Trade and Economic Development minister, Edward Yau, said on Saturday.
In October, authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore announced that they had reached an agreement to allow people to travel between the two cities without having to quarantine – as long as they pass coronavirus tests before and after landing.
But the recent resurgence of coronavirus cases in Hong Kong has meant the operation, which was due to begin on Sunday, will be put on hold for at least two weeks, Yau told a press conference.
“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of securing public health, and also making sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Yau said.
“In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s responsible to put this back for a while, and then relaunch it at a suitable juncture.”
“We decided in the interests of making a good start, and also in the interests of avoiding any confusion to passengers,” Yau said.
“We will make further announcements, perhaps by early December, on the formal launching of the scheme.”
Under the terms of the travel agreement, the “bubble” would be automatically suspended for two weeks if either Hong Kong or Singapore reported on average five or more local, untraceable transmissions per day over the course of a week.
The Hong Kong health authorities said 43 new cases of coronavirus were registered on Saturday and announced new measures to curb the transmission of the virus, such as the suspension of concerts and live performances in night clubs, restaurants and bars.
On Friday, the city registered 26 cases, which led to the suspension of primary school classes due to fears of a new wave of infections.
To date, Hong Kong has been relatively successful in containing a major outbreak of the virus, with only 5,517 positive cases and 108 deaths since the start of the pandemic in late January.