Eager to come home, Singaporeans based in Hong Kong start booking flights before

SINGAPORE: The moment Mrs Xianna Lock got wind of the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble, she went straight to the Singapore Airlines website to book flights back to Singapore for Christmas and Chinese New Year. 

The 36-year-old Singaporean and her husband have been based in Hong Kong for three years. The last time she visited Singapore was in March, just before Hong Kong closed its borders to curb the spread of COVID-19.

She is now excited at the prospect of coming home. 

“How did we feel (after finding out about the travel bubble)? Yeah, finally!” Mrs Lock told CNA over the phone from Hong Kong. 

“Because previously, in the last three years, we have been going back to Singapore quite often. So to suddenly stop the habit … and I mean, you’re also concerned about your family members back in Singapore because it has also been a tough period for everyone.”

READ: COVID-19: Singapore, Hong Kong reach in-principle agreement to establish bilateral air travel bubble

Singapore and Hong Kong announced on Oct 15 that they have reached an in-principle agreement to establish a bilateral air travel bubble.

Full details of the agreement, including the date of implementation and how COVID-19 tests will be carried out, have yet to be announced.

But the air travel bubble will exempt travellers from quarantines or stay-home notices if they are negative for the coronavirus on mutually recognised polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

Unlike green lane or fast lane arrangements with other destinations, there will be no restrictions on travel purpose under the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble, paving the way for leisure travellers. They will also not need to have a controlled itinerary.

READ: Fast lane, green lane, air travel pass: What you need to know about Singapore’s COVID-19 travel measures

While Singapore residents can return home under the current circumstances, those travelling from Hong Kong must serve a seven-day stay-home notice which can be done at their place of residence.

The stay-home notice period was previously 14 days at a dedicated facility, but it was reduced with effect from Oct 15 after Hong Kong was added to Singapore’s list of low-risk countries and regions.

These restrictions made it difficult for Singaporeans to take time off work to travel home. 

With the isolation period being 14 days in Hong Kong, it adds up to roughly the number of days of annual leave an employee has, noted Ms Su Weiying, who has been working in Hong Kong for nearly six years.

Cathay Pacific Airways planes are seen at the Hong Kong International Airport

FILE PHOTO: Cathay Pacific Airways planes are seen at the Hong Kong International Airport, China September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

Despite the lack of details on the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble, Mrs Lock and her husband decided to go ahead and reserve their seats as…

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