South Korea

Singapore-Hong Kong ATB delayed until July, no ‘firm plans’ for South Korea

Singapore-Hong Kong ATB delayed until July, no ‘firm plans’ for South Korea

The Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble was originally scheduled to begin on May 26. (Photo: Yahoo News Singapore/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) said on Thursday (June 10) that a review of the proposed Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB) scheme is scheduled for early July, following multiple launches of the scheme. put off.

The launch was postponed from its target date of May 26 following a mutual agreement between Transport Minister S Iswaran and Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau due to the deteriorating COVID-19 situation in Singapore.

The situation in Singapore has since improved, with the number of community cases and the number of locally unlinked coronavirus cases trending downward, the Ministry of Transport noted. Meanwhile, the situation in Hong Kong continues to remain stable, with few community cases in the past few weeks.

“Both Singapore and Hong Kong are firmly committed to safely launching ATB. We will continue to closely monitor the public health situation in both places,” the Ministry of Transport said.

Originally announced with great fanfare on November 11, 2020, the travel bubble was billed as the first of its kind in the region, if not the world. However, just 10 days later, the November 22 launch was put on hold for two weeks due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government stated that “in view of the severe epidemic situation in Hong Kong and the rapid increase in local cases of unknown origin”, December 1 was postponed indefinitely.

Separately, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who co-chairs the multi-ministerial task force on COVID-19, told reporters at a virtual news conference that there are no “firm plans” for a travel bubble with South Korea.

“I think it’s actually good to continue to have discussions with different partners, regions and countries about future possibilities, but as of now I don’t think there are any firm plans.”

Ong was answering questions about reports that South Korea aims to speed up travel bubble talks with Singapore to allow quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated people starting as early as July. Wang, a former transport minister, pointed out that the term “travel bubble” is often used casually.

As far as Singapore and Hong Kong are concerned, Ong said they are two “very safe areas” that hope to form a free travel zone, including pre-departure testing and arrival testing, passengers will not need any quarantine upon arrival. “In the case of South Korea, I think the concept is a vaccinated travel bubble, which means that if both regions keep infections at a very low level … and they’re confident that if travelers get vaccinated Vaccine, it’s safe enough to travel with some precautions.”

He added, “I think those are the concepts that we need to think about, in the medium term, definitely not in this period when we’re just recovering from this wave of transmission and opening up in stages, but I think it’s always Okay we’ve thought about the way forward for a few months because we really need to live a normal life and get back to normal.”

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