The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government Wednesday announced that the bilateral Air Travel Bubble (ATB) between Hong Kong and Singapore with designated flights will be launched on Nov. 22.
Under the ATB arrangement, travelers between the two places will not be subject to any quarantine arrangements upon arrival, nor restrictions to their travel purposes or itineraries on the condition that they comply with a set of anti-epidemic protocols.
There are stringent measures in place to safeguard public health under the arrangement, including mutually recognized COVID-19 tests, designated flights for ATB passengers as well as a scalable mechanism to adjust the ATB arrangement having regard to the epidemic situation. All measures are meant to resume cross-border air travel in a safe and progressive manner.
On COVID-19 testing, the ATB travelers must have tested negative in mutually recognized tests taken within 72 hours before their departure. They must also have no travel history to any places other than Singapore or Hong Kong in the last 14 days prior to their departure.
All ATB travelers must undertake COVID-19 tests again via a designated lane at the airport upon arrival at Hong Kong, and then wait at a restricted area of the airport until the receipt of negative test results so that they may leave the airport and start their itineraries.
The ATB travelers must travel on designated flights to minimize risks. The number of designated flights arriving at Hong Kong will increase progressively, from one flight per day in the first 15 days to two flights per day thereafter depending on the actual implementation. Each designated flight can carry a maximum of 200 ATB travelers.
In addition, there is a scalable mechanism under the ATB arrangement. If the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases is more than five for either Singapore or Hong Kong, the ATB arrangement will be suspended for two weeks. If the relevant figure reported on the last day of the suspension period does not exceed the specified threshold of five, the ATB arrangement can resume.
Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR government, said at a press conference on Wednesday that this is the very first ATB for Hong Kong. He hoped that aviation, tourism, hotel, retail and catering businesses can benefit from it, thereby enabling Hong Kong's economy to recover gradually.
Yau said that not only will the implementation of the ATB arrangement facilitate resumption of air travel between Hong Kong and Singapore, but will also help enable Hong Kong's discussions with places, with epidemic situations controlled, on resuming cross-border travel in an orderly manner.