Singapore and Hong Kong said Wednesday that a travel bubble between the two Asian financial centers will begin this month, allowing travelers to bypass quarantine.
The arrangement, set to begin on Nov. 22, would allow one designated “bubble” flight into each city every day, each carrying a maximum of 200 passengers. Travelers must test negative for the virus and fly only on the designated flights.
Singapore’s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, said in a video Wednesday that the bubble is “as close as it gets” to travel before the coronavirus pandemic. “This is only possible because both Singapore and Hong Kong have successfully controlled the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
Travelers from Singapore would be the first allowed to enter Hong Kong since the semiautonomous Chinese territory barred all nonresidents from outside China in March. Singapore requires most travelers to serve a mandatory quarantine period upon arrival.
Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary of commerce, said in a statement Wednesday that he hoped the travel arrangement would bring relief to Hong Kong’s economy. “We hope that aviation, tourism, hotel, retail and catering businesses can benefit from it,” he said.
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, has eliminated 8,500 jobs, saying it had to “fundamentally restructure” as the coronavirus pandemic pummeled the aviation industry.
Hong Kong Express, a budget carrier, began offering this month a “flight to nowhere,” an hourlong tour of the city’s airspace. In Singapore, travel-starved customers have paid hundreds of dollars to eat first-class and business-class meals on grounded Singapore Airlines planes.