Hong Kong government bars Singapore Airlines passenger flights from Apr 3 to 16; COVID-19 case detected
SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) passenger flights departing from Singapore will not be allowed to land in Hong Kong between Saturday (Apr 3) to Apr 16, the government of Hong Kong said on Friday.
The announcement came in a daily press release providing updates and COVID-19 case numbers for the territory.
Friday’s press release stated that a passenger on SQ882, flying from Singapore to Hong Kong on Mar 31, was confirmed to have COVID-19 through a specimen collected at the Hong Kong Department of Health’s Temporary Specimen Collection Centre.
In addition, three passengers had also “failed to comply with requirements specified under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H)”.
According to a Hong Kong government website on COVID-19, the requirements prescribed by Chapter 599H are quarantine-related.
CNA has sought clarification from Hong Kong’s health department on the breaches committed by the three passengers.
“As such, the Hong Kong Department of Health invoked the regulation to prohibit landing of passenger flights from Singapore operated by Singapore Airlines in Hong Kong from April 3 to 16, 2021,” noted the release.
COVID-19 CASE WAS TRANSIT PASSENGER
In response to CNA queries, an SIA spokesperson confirmed that the airline has been asked to suspend the daily passenger service from Singapore to Hong Kong during these dates.
SIA’s passenger service from Hong Kong to Singapore is not affected, added the spokesperson.
“The health and safety of our customers and staff is our top priority. We will continue to work with the authorities to ensure that all passengers meet the regulatory requirements for entry into Hong Kong,” said the spokesperson.
“We will also assist the health authorities in all contact tracing efforts.”
In a subsequent update, SIA said it was a transit passenger who had tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Hong Kong.
The airline also confirmed that the other three passengers did not meet “regulatory requirements” for entry into Hong Kong.
“SIA has taken immediate steps to strengthen checks at the point of embarkation to ensure that our customers are in compliance with Hong Kong’s regulatory requirements.”
The airline also apologised to all affected customers and said that it is reaching out to them to offer “all necessary assistance” and to minimise the inconvenience caused.
TRAVEL BUBBLE POSTPONED
Earlier this week, Singapore Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung had said that the country is studying a proposal from Hong Kong to reopen borders safely, after a Hong Kong official said the territory had resumed discussions on a travel bubble with Singapore.
“We are very happy that Hong Kong has in recent weeks kept the pandemic under good control. This is a very positive development,” Mr Ong said in a statement on Monday.
Singapore and Hong Kong were scheduled to launch an air travel bubble in November last year but it was deferred after Hong Kong saw a surge in COVID-19 cases.
On Nov 21, a day before flights were to begin, it was announced that the launch of the travel bubble had been deferred to early December.
It was later pushed back to 2021, with the exact starting date yet to be determined.