The outlook for the long-awaited Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble arrangement remains uncertain, after Singapore authorities said that no date has been fixed for its relaunch.
Singapore’s transport ministry was responding to reports from Bloomberg and the South China Morning Post, which cited unnamed sources as saying that the travel bubble — first mooted in October last year — was called off by Singapore at the eleventh hour.
An announcement regarding the travel bubble relaunch was initially planned for 22 April, state the reports.
While Singapore neither confirmed nor denied the reports, it says it is in “close consultations” with its Hong Kong counterpart.
“We have not fixed a date to announce the resumption of the bubble, but will do so once we are ready, hopefully very soon,” a statement issued on 22 April reads.
It also comes as Singapore reported an uptick in coronavirus cases in foreign worker dormitories, with 11 new cases detected in a single dormitory. The city-state reported 24 new coronavirus cases on 22 April.
The travel bubble — which allows for leisure travel to take place without the need for quarantine measures — was to have kicked off on 22 November last year, but was called off a day before it was due to commence, following a spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong.
In December, both cities said the travel bubble would be pushed back to 2021, but did not commit to a specific launch date.
There was also talk this month about an imminent relaunch of the travel bubble, after Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said she hoped for an early agreement between both cities.
Singapore, in its response to Lam’s comments, said both parties were “finalising the details of our revised agreement and hope to announce our plans soon”.
The Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble would have provided a much-needed boost for Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, which have been hard hit by an unprecedented collapse in international travel demand and a lack of a domestic market.
The latest announcement also comes days after Australia and New Zealand kicked off travel bubble arrangements on 19 April, following several failed attempts.