Some Hong Kong Lawmakers Want Singapore Travel Bubble Plans Scrapped
Much has been said and done about the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble jinx. Despite seeing the travel bubble postponed twice, both governments are still in talks over the best way forward.
However, a recent development threatens to throw a wrench in the works.
Some lawmakers in Hong Kong now want the travel bubble plan scrapped, citing the recent change in Singapore’s Covid-19 goals.
Hong Kong City
They believe that Hong Kong shouldn’t be making quarantine-free travel arrangements with countries that do not aspire to reach zero Covid-19 cases as a target.
Change in Singapore’s Covid-19 strategy
Singapore unveiled its plans to live with Covid-19 as an endemic a few weeks ago.
And this change in the Covid-19 strategy is not going down well among lawmakers in Hong Kong, who are striving to achieve a goal of ‘zero Covid’.
According to The Straits Times, pro-Beijing legislator Michael Tien stressed that mainland China “will not tolerate loopholes at our airport”.
He said if Singapore has changed its anti-pandemic target, the government should give up talks with the country about resuming the travel bubble.
Danger of working with cities that stopped aiming for zero infections
Pro-Beijing lawmaker of the Federation of Trade Unions Alice Mak echoes the sentiment, saying that it’s best to abandon the travel scheme with Singapore.
This is despite there being benefits to the tourism industry.
Even though she would like to go to Singapore herself, Hong Kong shouldn’t set up a travel bubble with cities that “stopped trying to achieve zero infections”.
Otherwise, Hong Kong citizens may pay a dear price with their health, she said.
Hong Kong will keep communication channels open
What do we know of Hong Kong’s response so far? Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan did not explicitly state whether she agreed with Mr Tien and Ms Mak’s views.
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that she only said Hong Kong would continue to strive for zero infections while keeping communication channels open.
Meanwhile, respiratory medicine specialist Dr Leung Chi-chiu opined that Hong Kong should relook at the travel bubble arrangement if Singapore has a different management strategy indeed.
He added that vaccination “is not foolproof”. He said Hong Kong should weigh carefully whether they can take extra risks at this time by letting “potential carriers” into the community.
Travel bubble renamed to travel corridor to remove jinx
Earlier this month, Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said both cities are in the midst of reviving the quarantine-free travel scheme.
Moving away from the word ‘bubble’ that connotes something fragile, Minister Ong has renamed it to ‘travel corridor’ instead.
Speaking to The Straits Times, he said both cities are in a good place now, and “both of us are vaccinating our people”.
Hope Singapore & Hong Kong can work things out when they’re ready
The views of some Hong Kong lawmakers may be seen as potentially bursting our bubble. But the arguments are sound as they’re prioritising the health of their people above all else.
We’re unsure how this latest development will play out, though we hope that both cities can find common ground eventually.
With safety measures in place, we trust both cities can finally take a step forward towards boosting their respective travel and tourism and hospitality industries—when they’re ready, of course.
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