Following the last-minute cancellation of the first attempt to set up a Hong Kong – Singapore quarantine-free travel bubble in November 2020, hopes of a second attempt have been reignited, with signs pointing to mid-May as a likely launch period for the bubble.
However, the exact launch date is still unknown as considerations from authorities towards the state of the virus will determine if the launch gets the long-awaited green light.
Similar to the first bubble-try, Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) and Cathay Pacific Airways are the two carriers expected to launch the bubble and COVID-19 testing is expected to remain a condition for the bubble despite the two destinations being regarded as low-risk areas.
The first travel bubble attempt was initially announced on November 11, 2020, and intended for launch on November 22, 2020. Before it was halted, the bubble was set up to allow a daily count of 200 people, excluding transit passengers, to travel between Singapore and Hong Kong with quarantine-free restrictions. The plan was averted at the last minute due to a surge in community infections in Hong Kong at a time where the region was experiencing its fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.
The second time around, while the industry employs various measures to stimulate travel demand, authorities are more cautious towards launching the route, stating that vaccination will be a prerequisite for flight. According to data, Hong Kong has now administered 13.08 vaccination per 100 people as of April 16, 2021, and Singapore, 28.5 vaccinations per 100, as of April 6, 2021.
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Hong Kong leader, informed residents that vaccination would be a requirement before flying to Singapore under the bubble. Sources say this would be an incentive for vaccination for Hong Kong residents seeking to travel outside the city. No similar requirements have been outlined by Singapore leaders as of yet.
The age threshold in Hong Kong will be lowered to allow people aged 16 to 29 to get vaccinated, opening a wider adult age group to be eligible to seek COVD-19 protection, thus boosting the potential for quarantine-free travel between the two hubs.