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Wed, 11 November 2020

Hong Kong - Singapore Air Travel Bubble to Take Off on 22 November

The inaugural Air Travel Bubble (ATB) flights between Singapore and Hong Kong will take off on 22 November 2020, following the conclusion of negotiations earlier this week.

Under the ATB, travellers between Singapore and Hong Kong will be subject to COVID19 tests, in lieu of quarantine or Stay-Home Notice. There will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel and no requirement for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship.

Any person who has remained in Singapore and/or Hong Kong in the 14 consecutive days prior to departure is eligible to travel. However, holders of Work Permits or S-Passes issued by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower working in the construction, marine shipyard, or process sectors are excluded from travelling from Singapore to Hong Kong on the ATB.

Travellers from both cities must travel on designated flights serving only ATB travellers.. Click to enlarge.

Travellers from both cities must travel on designated ATB flights that will only serve ATB travellers.

As a start, there will be one flight a day into each city with a quota of 200 travellers per flight. This will be increased to two flights per day into each city with a quota of 200 travellers per flight from 7 December 2020.

Mr Ong Ye Kung, Singapore's Minister for Transport, said, The Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble enables us to achieve two objectives at the same time open up our  borders in a controlled manner, while maintaining safety in our societies. While we may be starting small, this is an important step forward. I have no doubt both Singapore and Hong Kong will co-operate fully to make this scheme work. It will be a useful reference for other countries and regions that have controlled the epidemic, and are contemplating opening their borders.

Travellers are required to take a pre-departure COVID19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of the designated ATB flight and obtain a negative test result.

Departing from Singapore: All travellers departing from Singapore to Hong Kong will need to apply for approval to take their pre-departure COVID19 PCR test if they plan to take their COVID19 PCR test before 1 December 2020. They need to apply for approval at least 7 days before departure and will need a confirmed flight ticket to Hong Kong in order to apply. Upon the receipt of an application approval via email, travellers can contact and take their test at one of the recognised clinics/testing centres in Singapore.

Departing from Hong Kong: Travellers are required to take a pre-departure COVID19 PCR test within 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of the designated ATB flight and obtain a negative test result. Travellers can contact and take their test at one of the recognised clinics/testing centres in Hong Kong.

Air Travel Pass: Foreign travellers from Hong Kong will need to apply for Air Travel Pass between seven and thirty calendar days prior to their intended date of entry into Singapore. Travellers can apply for the ATP from 12 November 2020, 8am (Singapore time) for entry into Singapore on or after 22 November 2020.

Post-Arrival COVID-19 Testing: All travellers arriving in Hong Kong are required to take a COVID19 test upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). Travellers must book and pay for the post-arrival COVID19 PCR test at Hong Kong International Airport before departing Singapore.Travellers must remain in HKIA until they receive their negative
test results.

Conrad Clifford, IATAs Regional Vice President for Asia Pacific, said, International air travel in Asia Pacific is practically non-existent. Our latest figures for September show passenger demand at about 95% below the same period last year. The Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble, though starting small, is a step in the right direction to reboot international travel in the region. We look forward to seeing Hong Kong and Singapore expand this arrangement with other destinations, and for other governments to adopt a similar approach.

What is significant is that quarantine measures have been lifted for any travel between Hong Kong and Singapore, and is not limited to just business or essential travel. Replacing quarantine measures with COVID19 testing will help in re-opening borders, restore connectivity that jobs and the economy depend on, and give passengers confidence to travel.

Standards and technological solutions will also be needed to facilitate the management, communication and verification of test results by the multiple stakeholders involved in the travel process. This is something we are working on with the parties in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Should travellers become COVID19 positive while in Singapore or Hong Kong, they will need to bear the full cost of any medical treatment, subject to the respective cities prevailing medical and healthcare policies.

The ATB will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked COVID19 cases is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong.

If the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked COVID19 cases on the last day of the suspension period is five or less, the ATB arrangement will resume.

IMPORTANT UPDATE TWO 21 November 2020:

UPDATED at 17:05 Bangkok time on 21/11/20: After the below news was published about Hong Kong travellers being required to take an additional COVID19 PCR test on arrival at Changi Airport in Singapore, it has since been announced that the Air Travel Bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore has been suspended. The decision was taken after an even larger than had been expected spike of COVID19 cases was reported in Hong Kong on Saturday. The ATB will now not happen until sometime in December, at the earliest, after both cities review the situation. Travellers can still continue their journey on non-designated ATB flights. However, such travellers will be subject to the prevailing border control and health requirements of both cities. More on this to come. /END OF UPDATE TWO.

IMPORTANT UPDATE ONE 21 November 2020:

Hong Kong Travellers Now Required to Take Additional COVID19 Test On-Arrival at Changi

Because of an increase in the number of COVID19 cases in Hong Kong in recent days, all travellers from the city arriving in Singapore under the Air Travel Bubble arrangement are required to take an on-arrival COVID19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test at Changi Airport.

Under the terms of the ATB, flights will be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked cases exceeds five per day. The figure for Hong Kong is currently at 2.14. The threshold will be exceeded if there are more than 22 unlinked cases in Hong Kong over the next three days. This will trigger a two-day notice period, after which suspension will come into effect. Prevailing border measures a 7-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) in the case of travellers from Hong Kong will then apply upon entry into Singapore.

In the meantime, the Singapore - Hong Kong ATB arrangement will be launched as scheduled on 22 November 2020.

All travellers under the ATB are already required to take a pre-departure COVID19 PCR test and obtain a negative  test result before departing for Singapore. Now they also have to undergo an on-arrival COVID19 PCR test.

The on-arrival COVID19 PCR test will cost S$196 (including GST) per traveller. However, to give travellers under the Singapore - Hong Kong ATB time to adjust to the sudden change, they will not need to pay for the on-arrival COVID19 PCR test for the first week, from 22 to 28 November 2020.

After the test, travellers must self-isolate in their place of residence, whether a hotel or a home (for Singapore Residents), while waiting for the results, which will take about six to eight hours. They are to take private transportation, taxi, or private hire car from the airport to their declared place of accommodation.

Given the evolving COVID19 situation, passengers travelling to Hong Kong are advised to stay vigilant, exercise precaution by avoiding crowded places and to adhere to Hong Kongs prevailing public health measures at all times. They are also advised to make contingency plans, because should the ATB be suspended, they may have to change their flights, and will have to undergo 7-day SHN upon return. /END UP UPDATE ONE.

See latest Travel News, Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: COVID19, Hong Kong, Singapore.

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