Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble to launch May 26 – everything you need to know about vaccinations, testing and contact tracing

After the news was announced, air ticket prices soared. Before the bubble, Singapore Airlines cost S$286.10 (HK$1,675) for a one-way flight to Hong Kong in early May, but as of 1.30pm on Monday, a round-trip ticket departing on May 26 cost up to S$776.10 (HK$4,544) . Meanwhile, a one-way bubble flight on Cathay Pacific costs HK$4,133 (S$705).

Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble to start on May 26

Are only vaccinated people eligible?

Hong Kong residents need to be fully vaccinated 14 days before departure to Singapore, ie two doses of Sinovac vaccine or BioNTech vaccine. The vaccination requirement does not apply to Singaporean travelers traveling to Hong Kong.

Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said that was because last year’s original plan was for people to be eligible for quarantine-free travel to a “safe, well-controlled partner city or region, and then you can travel…” to be tested, but not vaccinated” .

Hong Kong met that criterion, Wang said, adding that the city’s requirement for all departing residents to be fully vaccinated may be because “they want to provide an extra incentive for people to get vaccinated.”

Hong Kong Commerce Minister Yau Teng-wah explained that the travel bubble plan depends on the control of coronavirus infections and the testing capabilities of both parties. He said the requirement for travelers from Hong Kong to be vaccinated was an additional incentive to boost the city’s vaccination campaign.

Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Yau Teng-wah and Secretary for the Civil Service Nip Tak-kuen attended a press conference to reveal the air travel bubble plan with Singapore. Photo: South China Morning Post/Sam Tsang

However, the Hong Kong government will allow exceptions to this rule, and no proof of vaccination will be required for Hong Kong residents who:

1. Under the age of 16

2. Cannot be vaccinated for health reasons

3. Stay in Hong Kong for less than 90 days before departure

4. Exit using non-Hong Kong travel documents

So far, about 11% of Hong Kong’s roughly 7.5 million people have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. About 432,000 people (5.7% of the population) are fully vaccinated. The city currently allows anyone over the age of 16 to get vaccinated.

Singapore is using the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. So far, 2.2 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the country, with 849,764 people (14.9% of the population) vaccinated. In Singapore, vaccination is open to people aged 45 and over.

So what are the rules?

Travelers will need four negative tests for Covid-19 – two tests should be taken within 72 hours of scheduled departure and two tests will be taken upon arrival at the destination and city of residence.

This means travelers can expect to spend up to HK$2,845 (S$485) for the test. Experts have previously blamed the origin of test kits and the type of swabs used for the higher cost of testing in Singapore than in Hong Kong. Test kits in Singapore came from Germany’s Roche AG, U.S.-based Holojet and Thermo Fisher Scientific, while some of the test kits in Hong Kong are believed to have come from mainland China. Laboratory processes such as drawing samples are also an expensive component, easily costing S$150 (HK$866), said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist in Singapore.

Singapore will not require persons under the age of six to undergo a Covid-19 test before departure for Hong Kong and upon arrival at Singapore Changi Airport. This means those under the age of six will only need to take the test twice – before leaving Singapore for Hong Kong and upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport.

All travelers must bear all medical expenses in their respective cities, while Singapore requires all short-term travelers from Hong Kong to purchase travel insurance.
Visitors to both cities will be required to download the respective contact tracing apps – track together and leave home safely before they leave their hometown.

Travelers must abide by existing public health and safe distancing measures in both cities, such as wearing masks and limiting group gatherings.

Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble ‘won’t burst’ despite shifting pressure

Singapore residents:

Passengers leaving Singapore may refer to this site for testing details. Each test costs approximately S$200 (HK$1,170). Passengers traveling to Hong Kong must book and pay the arrival test fee at Hong Kong International Airport in advance, and stay at Hong Kong International Airport to wait for the test results. Testing on arrival costs HK$499 (S$85).
they must submit a Online Health Declaration Before arriving in Hong Kong, the QR code must be retained. Declarations can be completed up to 48 hours before arrival.

Those who hold work permits or S passes in Singapore and work in the construction, shipyard or processing industries are not eligible for the travel bubble. Wang said last year that Hong Kong authorities were particularly concerned about this group of workers. Many live in dormitories, which account for about 94% of Singapore’s total Covid-19 infections.

Singapore bans non-resident tourists from India from Friday

Hong Kong resident:

Passengers leaving Hong Kong should refer to this site Expect to pay HK$240 (S$41) per test. Passengers traveling to Singapore are encouraged to pre-book and pay the arrival test fee at Changi Airport, which costs SGD 160 (HKD 936).They can refer to this Place.

After being tested, they should travel by private transport or taxi to their declared residence and remain in isolation there until the test result is confirmed negative. Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders can self-isolate at their place of residence, but all others must book non-residential hotel accommodation for one to two days while they await test results.

Passengers traveling from Hong Kong to Singapore need to complete and submit Singapore Arrival Card within three days of arrival.Short-term visitors (non-citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders) need to apply air travel pass 7 to 30 days before the expected date of entry into Singapore.
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People will be able to travel between Hong Kong (left) and Singapore (right) under the new travel bubble.Photo: AFP

The quarantine-free plan was canceled at the last minute. Will the same thing happen again?

This time, the mechanics of bubble continuation have been tightened. Like last year, if the seven-day moving average of unlinked cases in any city exceeds five, the bubble will pause for two weeks. However, the bubble will resume only if three conditions are met: the moving average of the last day of the suspension is below 5, the two cities have no more than three unrelated cases for three consecutive days, and the moving average of the third day does not exceed 5. than five.

Hong Kong’s current figure is 1.29 and Singapore’s is 0.43.

Which other countries also have travel bubbles? How are they doing?

The air travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand kicked off last Monday (April 19) after months of negotiations and setbacks between the two countries over several small virus outbreaks. Media reports point to uneven demand, with a disproportionate number of travelers departing from Australia.

Wellington Airport marked the occasion with a giant welcome sign painted near its main runway, while Air New Zealand ordered around 24,000 bottles of sparkling wine for passengers. But on Friday, New Zealand said it would suspend its travel bubble with Western Australia after the Perth and Peel regions went back into lockdown after a traveler tested positive for Covid-19.

New Zealand suspends travel bubble with Western Australia

Singapore’s transport minister Ong said this “stop-and-go situation” would become the “normal” of a travel bubble. “Similarly, we experienced the same in the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble, and now I think the conditions are right for us because we have similar risk profiles,” he said on Monday.

In other respects, the quarantine-free travel arrangement between Taiwan and Palau was launched at the beginning of this month (April 1), and about 100 Taiwanese tourists took the first flight to this Pacific island country.

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