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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)

Flights under the Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble (ATB) will be launched on November 22, Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau announced today.

Outlining the ATB’s details at a press conference this morning, Mr Yau said the number of designated flights arriving in Hong Kong will increase progressively, from one flight per day in the first 15 days to two flights per day after that depending on the actual implementation.

Each designated flight can carry a maximum of 200 ATB travellers.

Under the arrangement, travellers between the two places will not be subject to quarantine arrangements upon arrival nor any restrictions to their travel purposes or itineraries if they comply with a set of anti-epidemic protocols.

Mr Yau emphasised that there are stringent measures in place to safeguard public health under the arrangement.

“The entire Air Travel Bubble arrangement is premised on two very important principles. Firstly, it must be safe and secure in the foremost. Once that has been satisfied, it must be as facilitating as possible.

“When you look at the whole arrangement, there are basically five major conditions that we enter into such agreement with partners, in this case, Singapore. These five would include two preconditions which err on the safe side.

“Firstly, there must be a mutually recognised test. In the case of Hong Kong, it’s a double assurance – both pre-departure and upon arrival.”

Travellers must have tested negative in mutually recognised COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nucleic acid tests taken within 72 hours before their departure.

They must also have no travel history to places other than Singapore or Hong Kong in the 14 days before their departure.

Once they arrive in Hong Kong, travellers must undertake COVID-19 tests again via a designated lane at the airport and then wait at a restricted area until they receive a negative result.

Mr Yau added that the second condition requires designated flights to only fly between Hong Kong and Singapore and not carry transit passengers.

“In fact, the pilot and air crew members will also follow the same principle.

“There are two other conditions, which are more facilitating, which are doing away with the quarantine requirement and also, no control on the itinerary as such.

“These allow any passengers, any visitors to do whatever they need to do in Hong Kong, be they visiting, be they doing business or be they having family reunions, and that is premised on the two conditions of being safe and secure from the outset.”

Mr Yau noted that a scalable mechanism will be put in place.

“Both sides will look into the control mechanism and the situation of the epidemic to adjust the arrangement – either to expand the capacity if both sides are comfortable, or reduce it as the criteria suggests, or even suspend it for a while or for a longer term if things turn worse.”

If the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local COVID-19 cases is more than five for either Singapore or Hong Kong, the ATB will be suspended for two weeks.

Mr Yau said the arrangement will help enable Hong Kong’s discussions with other places that have been able to control the epidemic on resuming cross-border travel.

Director of Health Dr Constance Chan, who also attended the press conference, pointed out travellers will need to wait for about four hours before they can receive their virus test results at the Hong Kong International Airport.

“We will be accepting the PCR test. For the arrangement for this Air Travel Bubble, the Hong Kong Airport Authority will be contracting out the test, so the turnaround time will be shorter because they will have a dedicated laboratory set up at the airport itself.”

Click here for details.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News