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Photograph: Robert Bye/Unsplash

Singapore-Hong Kong 'travel bubble': everything you need to know

We answer all the questions about what you need to know about this new development in leisure travel being allowed between Hong Kong and Singapore

By Delfina Utomo and Dewi Nurjuwita
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UPDATE A few weeks ago, Singapore and Hong Kong reached an in-principle agreement to establish a two-way Air Travel Bubble (ATB). This will allow travel between both cities without quarantine. There are conditions that travellers will have to adhere to, however, including testing negative for Covid-19. 

An official date has now been set: the air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will start on November 22. The Ministry of Transport announced that there will be one flight a day and a limit of 200 travellers – but this arrangement will increase to two flights a day into each city from December 7. 

Anyone who has stayed 14 days in either city, regardless of age and nationality, will be eligible to travel freely. The announcement has already seen the cost of air tickets between Singapore and Hong Kong jump by about 40 per cent upon the announcement of the 'travel bubble'. 

Here's everything you need to know – and what you can and cannot do when the 'travel bubble' is established. 

For more up to date information on current regulations, you can also visit gov.sg or read the full statement by the Ministry of Transport here.

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When can we start travelling to Hong Kong?

The launch date of the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble is November 22 with one flight a day into each city and a quota of 200 travellers. The number of flights a day will increase to two, starting December 7.

 

Hong Kong Harbour
Hong Kong Harbour
Photo: Hong Kong Tourist Board

Why Hong Kong?

Singapore already has travel arrangements with a number of other territories, but none so far that allow leisure travel. This agreement with Hong Kong is the first such arrangement. 

One of the main reasons why the ATB came to place is because both cities have low incidence of Covid-19 cases and have put in place robust mechanisms to manage and control it. 

Minister Ong Ye Kung also acknowledges the risks in this decision and have said that the ATB will be suspended if cases spike. 

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How and when will the Covid-19 tests be carried out?

Travellers from Singapore will be tested for Covid-19 at three points: before departing from Singapore, upon arrival in Hong Kong, and again before departing from Hong Kong.

Those travelling will need to take a mutually recognised Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before departure. If you are departing from Singapore, you will need to apply for approval for Pre-Departure PCR Test at least seven days before departure and will also need a confirmed flight ticket to Hong Kong to apply. Travellers will also have to take another Covid-19 test upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport.

If you are departing from Hong Kong, you can take a PCR test at any recognised clinic or testing centre in the city.

Can I book any flight to Hong Kong?

No. Travellers will be required to go on flights dedicated for those travelling under the scheme – so as to not mix with passengers in transit even though they are heading to the same destination.

As it is, most airline companies have implemented safety measurements and social distancing rules onboard planes such as cabin crew wearing masks throughout the flight (as well as goggles or eye visors when interacting with passengers), maintaining a safe distance when queuing for toilets, more frequent cleaning of lavatories and high touch point surfaces, and more.

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Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines
Photograph: Facebook/Singapore Airlines

What flights can I take?

The designated flights for ATB travellers are SQ890, SQ891, CX734 and CX759. From November 22, there will only be one flight a day into each city with a quota of 200 travellers per flight SQ890 and CX759. The frequency of flights will increase to two per day from December 7, with a quota of 200 travellers per flight as well.

Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the ATB can be "scaled by adjusting the number of dedicated flights upwards or downwards, or even suspended, in line with the latest developments and COVID-19 situation in the two cities". 

Changi Airport
Changi Airport
Photograph: Facebook/Changi Airport

Is quarantine required?

Travellers to either destination will not have to quarantine upon arrival as long as they test negative for Covid-19 prior to travelling. There are also no requirements for quarantine upon arrival back to the respective home countries. 

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What happens if you get Covid-19 while travelling?

The Ministry of Transport stated that travellers who get Covid-19 while in Singapore or Hong Kong will need to bear the full cost of medical treatment – subject to existing medical and healthcare policies.

Changi Airport
Changi Airport
Photo: Dreamstime

Can we travel to other countries?

Singapore has implemented special travel arrangements with some countries and regions, such as China and Malaysia, to facilitate travel. However, this covers travel related to essential business-related work, taking up employment overseas, repatriation of Chinese or Indian nationals with live or cancelled work permits and S-Passes returning to China or the Tamil Nadu or West Bengal States of India, and travel related to long-term education, compassionate reasons, or otherwise. 

Hong Kong will be the only place where leisure travel is allowed. 

You can still be a tourist in our own city

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