In the latest update on the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble (ATB), Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced in the late afternoon of Nov. 21 that its launch would be deferred.
Deferred for two weeks
This move comes after a rise in cases in Hong Kong and its evolving Covid-19 situation.
Ong announced the decision in a Facebook post, saying it was made after some discussion with Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau in the afternoon.The launch, which was originally scheduled to take place on Nov. 22, will be deferred by two weeks.
The government will review the new launch date and provide a later update.
Ong stated that he "fully understand[s] the disappointment and frustration" of those who have planned their trips.
The airlines will be contacting the travellers individually to inform them of the change.
"This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs. But we will press on and look forward to when we can safely launch the ATB."
ATB suspended if the seven-day moving average more than five
Just earlier this morning, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced that the ATB will proceed as planned on Nov. 22, but with an additional precautionary safeguard.
The safeguard was that all passengers arriving from Hong Kong from Nov. 22 onwards will be required to take an on-arrival Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test at Changi Airport.
In a media doorstop on Nov. 21, Ong said that there was a "high chance" that the ATB will be suspended if Hong Kong continues to have "tens of cases with a fair number of unlinked cases".
According to CAAS, the ATB will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked Covid-19 cases is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong.
Currently, the average in Hong Kong is 2.14.
The ATB will be suspended if there are more than 22 unlinked cases in Hong Kong over the next three days.
Suspension will then occur after a two-day notice period.
Ong also elaborated on choosing Hong Kong to implement the ATB, stating that the country is a "natural partner" due to its reliability and trustworthiness.
Although he expected that the process would not be smooth, Ong stated that cities like Singapore and Hong Kong are aviation hubs and "depend on the world to earn a living and survive".
And as aviation hubs, both countries' airports and airlines are key to its global identity, not merely its tourists.
Top photos via Facebook / Ong Ye Kung and Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash