Govt urged to ditch travel bubble plan with Singapore

Some lawmakers on Friday urged the government to give up plans for a travel bubble with Singapore as the city-state looks to change its strategy against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore had recently announced that it planned to relax contact tracing and quarantine and focus on boosting vaccinations.

At a legislative council meeting, lawmakers said Hong Kong must hold onto its goal of maintaining zero local Covid infections, so travel between the SAR and the mainland could resume as soon as possible.

Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien said the SAR should not offer quarantine-free travel to people from places that do not have the same “Covid zero” target.

“The mainland will not tolerate any loopholes at our airport. If Singapore really changes its anti-pandemic target, the government can stop talking to the country about setting up a travel bubble,” he said.

Alice Mak of the Federation of Trade Unions noted that a travel bubble would be beneficial to the tourism industry, but she said “the cost would be too high” if it jeopardises Hong Kong’s pandemic situation.

“For places that don’t aim to achieve zero infection but hope to live with the virus, we should not have a travel bubble with them,” she said.

In response, Health Secretary Sophia Chan reiterated Hong Kong still aimed to get rid of all coronavirus infections in the city, adding authorities would continue to communicate with their counterparts in Singapore.

A plan to launch “travel bubble” between Hong Kong and Singapore was first delayed in November last year when Hong Kong battled a wave of new infections, and postponed again in May when cases surged in Singapore.