As it tries to fend off a surge in cases in the area, Hong Kong has suspended a proposed quarantine-free travel bubble with Singapore for the second time and strengthened restrictions on entry from Taiwan.
On Monday, a Hong Kong government spokesperson said that a new announcement on the travel bubble will be made by June 13, when Singapore’s latest anti-epidemic steps are due to expire.
Launch of SG-HK Air Travel Bubble Delayed Once More, Travels from Taiwan Curbed
On Sunday, Singapore reported 38 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases, with another 21 cases reported on Monday. As part of tougher anti-pandemic initiatives, restaurant dine-in services have been suspended and the number of household guests has been restricted, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.
Last November, the “bubble” was temporarily halted. It was attributed to an increase in cases in Hong Kong at the time.
Apart from returning Hong Kong citizens, who will be subjected to a 21-day quarantine in designated hotels and four tests during that period, Hong Kong has also barred all visitors from Taiwan.
Travellers who are completely vaccinated will be subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine and three checks during that period, as well as two mandatory coronavirus tests on the 16th and 19th days after arrival in Hong Kong.
Taiwanese travellers must present a negative Covid-19 test result 72 hours prior to departure.
Taiwan, one of the world’s most active countries in combating the coronavirus, confirmed 333 locally transmitted cases on Monday, following an unexpected spike. From Wednesday onwards, all arrivals except those with residency permits are prohibited.
‘Vaccinate while you can’
Yuen Kwok-Yung, a leading Hong Kong microbiologist, urged people to get vaccinated, saying he feared people would think it was unnecessary because the city was nearing “clearing zero.”
As of Monday, about 1.16 million people in Hong Kong, or around 18% of the population, had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with about 787,200 having been completely vaccinated.
“I hope that Hong Kong citizens can get vaccinated as soon as possible, get vaccinated while they can still choose [their vaccines], because, in September, one type of vaccine will no longer be provided,” said Yuen, referring to the BioNTech vaccine.