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SINGAPORE, April 14 — Hong Kong wants its travellers coming to Singapore to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before leaving the Chinese city, even though Singapore does not require them to do so.
Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam said yesterday that it is proposing to the Singapore Government that Hong Kong travellers be “fully vaccinated” before they make use of the proposed air travel bubble between the two cities.
The travel bubble allows all travellers to visit Singapore and Hong Kong without undergoing quarantine.
Lam said at a media briefing in Hong Kong: “It’s actually enhanced safety, but (the Singapore Government) will not impose such a requirement on travellers from Hong Kong within this air travel bubble.
“I expect an early indication of agreement between the two sides so that we can tell the people of Hong Kong that it’s time to travel to Singapore again.”
Lam also said that Singapore had “no objection” to what Hong Kong proposes to do.
She acknowledged that when the air travel bubble plan was discussed in November last year, “there was no reference whatsoever to vaccination”.
In response to TODAY’s queries, Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the two cities are in active discussion on starting the air travel bubble as noted by Lam.
“We are finalising the details of our revised agreement and hope to announce our plans soon,” he said.
Lam had said the day before that the basis for discussion with Singapore on the travel bubble is that “people leaving Hong Kong and entering Singapore need to be vaccinated”, news agency Bloomberg reported.
“We want to provide incentives to encourage Hong Kong citizens to get vaccinated,” she was quoted as saying.
Last month, Ong said that the authorities here are studying a proposal from Hong Kong to reopen borders safely after an official there said that discussions on the proposed travel bubble had resumed.
Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, said then that there were two conditions for the resumption of the travel bubble with Singapore — these included a Covid-19 test before departure and after arrival.
Yau also said that if Hong Kong people are to travel, then vaccination will be a requirement.
“This is for our own protection. I believe that will be the trend around the world in the long run,” he added.
Singapore and Hong Kong were scheduled to launch an air travel bubble in November last year but it was deferred after Hong Kong saw a surge in Covid-19 cases.
On November 21, a day before flights were to begin, it was announced that the launch of the travel bubble has been deferred to early December.
It was later pushed back to this year, with the exact starting date yet to be determined.
Just earlier this month, the Hong Kong authorities said that Singapore Airlines passenger flights departing from Singapore will not be allowed to land in the city between April 3 and 16 due to a Covid-19 case on flight SQ882 on March 31.
Ong said that the suspension does not affect the talks to establish or restore the air traffic bubble between the two cities.
“Travel bubble operates on the basis that the flights travelling within the bubble carry only what we call ‘OD’ — origin-destination — passengers Transit passengers are outside of the bubble, so it wouldn’t affect (the plans). And we continue to work with Hong Kong to restore this travel bubble,” Ong had said in Parliament. — TODAY