Published on : Friday, October 16, 2020
It is for the first time in seven months, most popular South Asian countries, Hong Kong and Singapore will open their borders for each other by exempting travellers from strict deadly COVID-19 restrictions.
By creating a travel pact, Asia’s two big financial hubs aim to ease travel difficulties for residents of both nations and visiting foreigners, with what both governments claim is the “world’s first” reciprocal travel bubble.
Hong Kong’s Commerce Secretary Edward Yau and Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung issued a joint statement saying that travellers under the scheme would only need to present a negative Covid-19 test result to be allowed to travel freely on dedicated flights. However, the details of the scheme, including the launch date, are yet to be fleshed out in the coming weeks.
Hong Kong banned all non-residents from entering its borders in March when it started seeing the first few cases of its coronavirus outbreak. The residents of mainland China and Macau also had to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival. The city has since reported 5,213 infections and 105 deaths so far.
The pact with Singapore is Hong Kong’s first attempt at creating a travel bubble as Covid-19 cases start to fall. However, Singapore has gone further, easing restrictions for essential business and official travel for a list of countries including China, Japan and South Korea. Singapore also closed its borders in March, and has 57,889 confirmed cases and 28 deaths so far. Both cities have managed to get their Coronavirus outbreak under control with falling local infections.
Australia and New Zealand also agreed plans for a travel bubble beginning this week, but the arrangement is not reciprocal, with quarantine-free travel only allowed for those travelling to Australia from New Zealand and not visa-versa.