Asia Minute: Singapore and Hong Kong Announce a Travel Bubble

Oct 16, 2020

The same day that Hawaii started its pre-travel testing program, two of Asia’s leading cities announced a travel agreement of their own. It’s a “travel bubble” involving Hong Kong and Singapore. That means residents will be able to skip a quarantine when traveling between the two cities — as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

Singapore’s Transport Minister told reporters, “to the best of our knowledge, this is the first reciprocal travel bubble in the region and maybe in the world.”

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development calls the agreement “a safe, careful, but significant step forward to revive air travel, and provide a model for future collaboration with other parts of the world.”

Any actual travel under the agreement is still weeks away.

Travelers need to show results of a negative COVID-19 test, and arrive on direct flights that do not accept any transit passengers. While other details are still to be announced, it will be a significant and symbolic move forward for regional travel.

Up to now, most travel into Hong Kong has been tightly restricted. Visitors from China, Taiwan and Macau have needed to undergo a 14-day quarantine, while most non-residents can’t even enter the city.

Singapore has been a little more open to outsiders — mostly those coming from areas that have relatively few cases of COVID, such as New Zealand, Brunei, Vietnam and most of Australia.

Other measures are in place for business travelers from countries including China, South Korea and Japan.

Hong Kong officials say they are in discussions with at least ten other locations to potentially expand broader travel arrangements.