Countries are opening up their borders through travel bubbles with a Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble following closely behind.
From 22 November 2020, travellers from Singapore and Hong Kong can begin travelling between the two cities since border restrictions were imposed due to COVID-19, and we’re not talking about travelling for work or business, but travelling for the food and attractions.
In this new arrangement, there will be one flight taking off per day to the other city. The quota will be capped at 200 travellers per flight and increased to two flights per day from 7 December 2020, onwards.
Should unlinked COVID-19 cases rise to more than five in either city, the travel bubble arrangement will be suspended for two weeks.
This begs the question:
What Are Travel Bubbles?
Also known as travel bridges or corona corridors (yes, seriously, some countries call it the corona corridor), travel bubbles are agreed-on common travel areas between regions or countries with low virus outbreak levels. Borders to other countries, however, will remain closed.
Hence, it is an exclusive partnership where “people can move freely within the bubble, but cannot enter from the outside,” said Per Block, an Oxford University researcher in social mobility and methodology.
Still curious about travel bubbles? Here are ten things you should know to get you started, because you won’t need a crystal ball to know that in the coming weeks, we’re going ho read more about travel bubbles with other countries.
1. Quarantine-Free Travel
By creating a travel bubble, citizens from each country or city can travel freely without having to be quarantined or isolated upon arrival.
For the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble, there are neither restrictions on the purpose of travel nor need for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship. However, passengers should not have been at any country aside from Hong Kong or Singapore within 14 days prior to departure. It’s unknown whether other bubbles would be the same.
2. Be Prepared to Take at least 3 COVID-19 Tests
3. Calling all Travel Bugs
While travelling is the last on anyone’s minds during these difficult times, the travel bubble is one way to have people feeling comfortable with travelling again (or satisfy those who’ve been waiting to fly away from the madness) all while trying to keep infection rates low.
But it’s not just for you to scratch your itchy butt.
4. Stimulate the Economy
By slowly opening up the borders, the cities will experience benefits for their businesses, its hard-hit sectors such as tourism and the economy while limiting the number of new coronavirus cases. One country might not seem to be a lot, but if we’ve more travel bubbles, it might Make Merlion Great Again.
5. Good News for Unemployment Rate
Even for those who do not wish to travel, there is an economic benefit that will emerge from creating a travel bubble. As the more businesses can return to pre-covid operation, the less the rate of unemployment will rise.
6. Families can Reunite
For those with families living miles away, this new update calls for a happy reunion with Singapore’s Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung saying those who are looking to travel for “business, or leisure or to reconnect with family, friends, and loved ones can get on the bubble.”
7. Help Improve Mental Health
Cases of depression and anxiety have risen considerably during the pandemic and among the many ways to cope through them is travelling. Allowing people the space to travel helps reestablish a sense of normalcy. In addition, travelling helps to promote better well-being by getting people to be more active, experience new perspectives and lower their stress levels.
8. Faster Exchange of Supplies
With travel bubbles, the flow of goods, services and key people in those cities can resume to a considerable sense of normalcy. This includes the pre-COVID19 customs procedure on essential items, and to resume logistics networks across air, sea and land freight.
9. More Countries Can Join In
As travel bubbles begin to form, other countries that are still on lockdown are also able to observe the best ways to approach opening up of their borders. This way, they can be equally, if not more prepared for their next steps. Lest you’r enot aware, it’s rumoured that Taiwan would be next for Singapore.
10. Better Sanitation
For countries opening up borders or are planning to do so, one thing that will be on the top of everyone’s minds is the sanitation standards. With travel bubbles opening up under specific circumstances, it will encourage better health and hygiene standards worldwide to ensure travellers remain safe, and also encourage them to control the infections since a travel bubble would help the economy. I mean, if you tell Trump that keeping infections low would result in a better economy, he’d have enforced mask-wearing a long, long time ago.
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