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Asia Minute: Asia’s Newest Travel Bubble

Yuichi Kosio / Flickr
Yuichi Kosio / Flickr

As vaccinations continue to increase around the country, so do travel plans. That’s also true in parts of the Asia Pacific—where another so-called “travel bubble” is starting up next month.

Starting four weeks from Wednesday, residents of Singapore and Hong Kong can travel between the two cities without any quarantine.

This travel bubble was originally scheduled to get underway in November but was delayed after a spike of new cases of COVID-19 in Hong Kong.

Everyone needs a negative test before departure and on arrival, and travelers need to download the contact tracing app of their destination city.

Residents of Hong Kong also need to be vaccinated in order to board a flight to Singapore.

The two cities are starting out slowly—with one flight a day in each direction for the first couple of weeks.

Before the pandemic, there were 15 to 20 flights a day each way—connecting two of the critical business and financial centers of Asia.

That cautious beginning is a contrast to the bubble that started last week between Australia and New Zealand which launched with hundreds of flights right away.

Health officials are closely watching case numbers on both ends of this bubble.

If the seven-day moving average of unlinked community cases increases to more than five in either city—the bubble will be suspended for at least two weeks.

Initial demand is strong--when the arrangement was announced earlier this week, tickets in both directions quickly sold out through the first week of June.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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