Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble: Additional COVID-19 test for passengers from Hong Kong, flights to go ahead on Sunday

Asia

SINGAPORE: Passengers arriving in Singapore under the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble will now be required to take a COVID-19 test at Changi Airport, an additional measure following a surge of coronavirus cases in Hong Kong. 

The launch of the air travel bubble will go ahead as planned, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) in a media release on Saturday (Nov 21). The first designated flights will take off and land in the two cities as scheduled on Sunday. 

The additional requirement of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is a “precautionary measure given the rise of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong over the past few days, and is provided for under the Singapore-Hong Kong ATB (air travel bubble) agreement”, said CAAS.

“More cases are expected in Hong Kong over the next few days due to the emergence of new clusters. The Singapore and Hong Kong health authorities are in close contact and monitoring the situation.”

Under the terms of the travel bubble, the arrangement would be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked cases exceeds five per day.

That figure for Hong Kong is currently 2.14, said CAAS. 

“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 seven-day SHN (stay-home notice) in the case of travellers from Hong Kong – will then apply upon entry into Singapore.”

The aviation authority added: “Hong Kong has a comprehensive public health surveillance system and the overall incidence rate is still low.”

READ: Hong Kong closes more schools as COVID-19 situation turns ‘severe’, health minister says

COST OF ON-ARRIVAL TEST

For travellers arriving from Hong Kong under the travel bubble, the COVID-19 PCR test will cost S$196. This will be waived for the first week (Nov 22 to Nov 28), said CAAS, to give travellers “time to adjust”.

After the test at Changi Airport, travellers are required to self-isolate in their place of residence or a designated hotel, while waiting for the results, which will take about six to eight hours. Travellers must take private transportation, taxi or private-hire car from the airport to their declared place of accommodation, said CAAS.

Ahead of Sunday’s launch of the travel bubble, CAAS also advised to people travelling to Hong Kong to “stay vigilant, exercise precaution by avoiding crowded places and to adhere to Hong Kong’s prevailing public health measures at all times”.

“They are advised to make contingency plans, because should the (air travel bubble) be suspended, they may have to change their flights, and will have to undergo seven-day SHN upon return,” said CAAS.

NO QUARANTINE, STAY-HOME NOTICE

Under the travel bubble, travellers will not be subject to quarantine or stay-home notice.

They have to take COVID-19 tests and dedicated flights, but there are no restrictions on the purpose of travel and no requirement for a controlled itinerary.

Singapore on Friday reported four new COVID-19 cases, all of which were imported. No locally transmitted cases were reported for the 10th consecutive day. The country’s tally of COVID-19 infections stands at 58,143, with 28 fatalities.

Hong Kong reported 26 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with the city’s top health official describing the situation as “severe”.

“I would appeal to people to stop all unnecessary gathering activities because the situation is severe now in Hong Kong,” Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said.

Hong Kong has “probably entered into a new wave of cases”, she said.

In-person classes for lower primary school students on the island have been suspended.

READ: Requirements for Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble not meant to be ‘totally symmetrical’: Ong Ye Kung

Earlier in November, Mr Ong said that the requirements for the air travel bubble were not designed to be “totally symmetrical”.

Initially, both cities had agreed to the need for pre-departure COVID-19 PCR tests as a prerequisite for travel, but only travellers from Singapore to Hong Kong were required to take an additional test upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport. 

That will now change with the new requirement announced on Saturday.

Singapore also excludes children aged 12 and below from having to take the PCR test, while Hong Kong requires all travellers to be tested.

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