SINGAPORE: The two-week deferral of the inaugural air travel bubble was a joint decision made by Singapore and Hong Kong, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Nov 23).
He added that both sides had previously agreed on “clear parameters” regarding the launch and suspension of the air travel bubble, and the deferment had been made “fast” given the spike in infection cases in Hong Kong.
Mr Chan was responding to a question raised during a press conference held on Monday morning after his ministry announced the country’s latest economic growth data.
“So when we look at the conditions, both sides (came) to a very fast agreement that when the conditions are changed, when the conditions have evolved, we will take the decisions accordingly,” he said.
“All the decisions made were within the framework that was already discussed in the lead-up to the air travel bubble.”
READ: Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble launch deferred for 2 weeks after COVID-19 cases spike in Hong Kong
The launch of the air travel bubble - Singapore’s first quarantine-free leisure travel agreement - was supposed to be on Sunday.
Singapore authorities had earlier said on Saturday morning that the travel arrangement would proceed as planned, although travellers from Hong Kong would have to go for a COVID-19 test upon arriving in Singapore, a new requirement announced at the same time.
It was later on Saturday afternoon that a deferment for two weeks was confirmed.
READ SIA, Cathay customers who no longer wish to fly after Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble deferment can request full refunds
When asked why the decision was changed within a span of just a few hours, Mr Chan replied that authorities from both cities share the numbers of infection cases with each other on a daily basis.
“So once the threshold is breached then we will make the decision jointly,” he added. “So in that sense, it was all within the framework.”
Under the terms of the travel bubble, the arrangement would be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked cases exceeds five per day in either city.
“As and when there’s new information available … once we look at those numbers, we apply the framework to them and we make a joint decision,” he said.