Hong Kong, Singapore agree 'travel bubble'

Hong Kong (AFP) –

Advertising

Hong Kong and Singapore on Thursday said they had agreed "in principle" to set up a bubble allowing residents to travel freely between the two financial hubs as long as they test negative for the coronavirus.

The two cities released joint statements announcing the deal, which they said would be implemented within weeks.

"This milestone arrangement will help revive cross-border air travel between the two aviation hubs, in a safe and progressive way," Hong Kong's government said.

"Both our cities have low incidence of COVID-19 cases and have put in place robust mechanisms to manage and control COVID-19," Singapore transport minister Ong Ye Kung said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The announcement promoted a seven percent surge on Thursday afternoon in the share price of Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific which, like all airlines, has been hammered by the coronavirus.

Singapore Airlines was trading up a more muted 1.15 percent.

The joint statement said there would be no limit on what type of travel will be allowed between Hong Kong and Singapore meaning tourists will be as welcome as business travellers.

Those travelling between the two hubs will need to have a negative coronavirus test result and travel on dedicated planes.

They will not need to quarantine for a period of time on arrival. No transit passengers will be allowed on board the travel bubble flights.

"Both governments are committed to fleshing out the full details of the (travel bubble) in the coming weeks and look forward to the resumption of travel between both cities, with the necessary safeguards in place to ensure that public health concerns of both sides are addressed," the joint statement said.