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The much-hyped Hong Kong-Singapore 'travel bubble' is postponed amid Covid-19 spike

November 21, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The highly-anticipated Hong Kong and Singapore "air travel bubble" was postponed Saturday -- less than 24 hours before it was due to launch.

(CNN) — The highly-anticipated Hong Kong and Singapore "air travel bubble" was postponed Saturday -- less than 24 hours before it was due to launch.

The bubble would have allowed quarantine-free, air travel between the two Asian hubs.

But a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong means the arrangement will be postponed for two weeks, said Edward Yau, Hong Kong's secretary for commerce and economic development, at a press conference Saturday.

Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest daily spike in over three months.

The quarantine-free corridor was meant to boost tourism and business travel between the two Asian hubs, which have largely contained their coronavirus outbreak.

Hong Kong has recorded 5,561 Covid-19 cases, including 108 deaths, since the outbreak began, while Singapore has reported 58,000 infections and 28 deaths.

Quarantine-free travel would have been a big deal for both destinations, where strict arrival regulations have been in place for months.

In Hong Kong, returning residents are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine and wear an electronic bracelet to track their location.

The bubble was set to begin Sunday with one flight a day into each city, with a quota of 200 travelers per flight -- and later set increased to two flights a day.

Singapore's Civil Aviation Authority initially announced on Saturday morning that the travel bubble with Hong Kong would be launched as scheduled.

"Given the evolving situation in Hong Kong, Secretary Edward Yau and I discussed further this afternoon, and decided that it would be better to defer the launch of the ATB, by two weeks.

Hong Kong has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in the past few days, after weeks of steadily low number of cases.

The city's Centre for Health Protection "strongly urged" the public to avoid all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong, and called on residents to avoid going out, dining out and having social contact.

"The scale of the increase is very alarming," Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch at Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection said on Saturday.

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