Hong Kong, Singapore seek final agreement on travel bubble
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CAPE TOWN - Hong Kong authorities are looking to finalise an agreement with Singapore which could see vaccine requirements for travellers waived from Singapore’s side once they reopen their borders.
The Straits Times, a Singapore-based publication, reported on Tuesday that Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said she was expecting “an early indication of agreement between the two sides”. However, she wanted to get Hongkongers vaccinated whether or not it would be a requirement by Singapore officials.
Hong Kong had sent its initial travel bubble proposal at the end of March, which stated that passengers taking the Singapore-Hong Kong quarantine-free bubble flights be vaccinated prior to travel.
“This is our suggestion to the Singaporean government, which of course they have no objection to,” Lam said at a press conference.
“Every country, every place has to design their incentives, taking into account the local context,” she said.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), a Hong Kong-based publication, Hong Kong officials have admitted that its "vaccination rate is not very satisfactory", and have urged locals to get on board with their vaccination programme.
Lam said the programme provides a road map for returning to normal life and highlighted the incentives of taking the jab.
"It is a new direction in fighting the pandemic… we hope to adjust the social-distancing measures based on vaccinations and give businesses a clear road map,” said Lam.
Meanwhile, Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told parliament in early March that there were no plans to require travellers to be vaccinated to enter Singapore.
Elsewhere, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the leaders of Malaysia and Singapore will discuss the reopening of their borders when they meet on May 4.
While a travel bubble will be among the topics discussed at the meeting in Singapore, Hussein had previously visited Singapore on March 23 where the neighbouring countries agreed to work together to allow for cross-border travel.