Hong Kong plans to launch a “travel bubble” with Singapore during November, said on Tuesday Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (pictured in a file photo). The news came despite reports that two staff members at terminal three of Singapore’s Changi Airport had recently tested positive for Covid-19. Mrs Lam said plans for resumed travel ties between the cities had not been derailed by the news.
The planned arrangement, which had been mentioned by a senior Hong Kong official earlier this month, would allow residents of the respective places to engage in leisure travel in each direction, quarantine-free, provided the individuals had a valid test certificate showing freedom from Covid-19 infection.
A number of investment analysts has said that curbs on inbound travel to Singapore amid the Covid-19 pandemic, have been a constraint on business recovery for Singapore’s two casino resorts. At Marina Bay Sands – one of them – third-quarter casino revenue was US$197 million, down 64.4 percent year-on-year from the US$553 million on a year earlier, said the resort’s parent Las Vegas Sands Corp in its earnings announcement last week.
Hong Kong – which according to some investment analysts had before the crisis supplied at least 10 percent of Macau’s annual gross gaming revenue – has not yet announced plans for a quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau.
The Hong Kong chief executive raised the Singapore bubble at a regular briefing ahead of a meeting of the city’s Executive Council. There was no mention of specifics regarding the policy.
Mrs Lam said Hong Kong’s Airport Authority would start trials this week of a rapid Covid-19 test at Hong Kong International Airport. The city’s residents could also pay for a pre-travel Covid-19 test at four new centres the authorities are setting up. They are: on Hong Kong Island; in Kowloon; in New Territories East; and New Territories West, according to media reports citing Mrs Lam’s remarks.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive said her city was also drafting a law that would enable the authorities to conduct mandatory Covid-19 tests for people who either display symptoms of infection, or are linked to people or places where an outbreak has occurred, or who are considered at relatively high risk of infection.
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“We see that basically the ‘golden’ periods [for Macau's casino industry] are all concentrated in the second half of this year”
Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance