- The Chief Executive also announced that Hongkongers living in mainland China would not have to quarantine if they returned to the city
- Travellers will have to prove they tested negative for Covid-19 but will otherwise face no restrictions
The travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is set to launch in November, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who also said that Hong Kong residents in mainland China would be allowed to return to the city without having to quarantine.
Speaking before her weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said the proposed route would launch next month, and travellers would be free from any form of quarantine.
The same would apply to Hong Kong residents returning from the mainland, but numbers would be subject to a quota arrangement, she said, because only two border crossings would reopen.
“It is a good beginning,” Lam said. “We have only the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and Shenzhen Bay checkpoints operating, which means the number of Hongkongers to be allowed to come back will be restricted. The border will be further reopened in an orderly manner.”
Lam confirmed that the travel bubble would allow people to travel between the two cities without having to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine imposed on arrivals from other destinations because of the coronavirus.
In Hong Kong, all but three border checkpoints have been closed since February and all visitors from China, Macau and Taiwan have had to go through the mandatory quarantine at a designated place or at home. Almost all non-residents are banned from flying into Hong Kong.
“Singapore and Hong Kong have had similar success in containing the coronavirus,” Lam said. “As for cross-border travel to China, it needs mutual consent, and we are technically ready.”
Singapore recorded three new Covid-19 cases on Monday, while Hong Kong had eight. Overall, Singapore’s total number of cases stands at about 57,000, while Hong Kong had 5,303 as of Monday.
Travellers will have to prove they tested negative for the virus, but no restrictions will be placed on the purpose of the trip.
Hong Kong was also hoping to reopen more of its border with the mainland, but that needed the cooperation of officials on both sides, Lam said.
“We are working very hard, and heard the plight of the travel industry stakeholders,” she said.
Lam said the Airport Authority would start trials of a rapid coronavirus test at Hong Kong International Airport this week. At the moment, travellers are forced to wait up to eight hours, or even overnight, for a test result.
“We will evaluate the effectiveness of the rapid virus test and see whether it can be used widely in the future, especially for arriving travellers,” Lam said.