Post-COVID holiday: Hong Kong is discussing ‘travel bubble’ with 11 countries, including Japan and Thailand

Can’t wait to hop on a plane and just go somewhere—anywhere—when the coronavirus eases?

The world, much of it still battling the coronavirus, won’t quite be your oyster just yet. But Hong Kong authorities announced today that the city is in talks with 11 countries about forming a “travel bubble.”

They include Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand and Vietnam, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said in a press conference Tuesday.

“Since mid June, we’ve been speaking with countries on implementing travel bubbles… under mutually agreeable terms to resume travel,” Yau said.

He added that any movement across borders would require pre- and post-travel testing and checks.

“This return has to be gradual, restricted and account for risks,” Yau said, cautioning that travel will not restart overnight.

He added that reopening travel is contingent on the changing virus situation in the respective countries.

Similar to Hong Kong, countries including Vietnam, South Korea and New Zealand have seen a recent COVID-19 resurgence.

In Australia, the number of new daily infections wavered around the low two-digit mark from late April to end July, when figures rose. The country appears to have reached its peak last month, and numbers have fallen since.

“If there are changes [to a country’s virus situation], the arrangements could be altered,” Yau said.

News about the potential restarting of travel came as Hong Kong recorded six coronavirus cases Tuesday—the lowest since the city was hit with its third COVID-19 wave. Just three are local infections.

Authorities announced that more social distancing measures would be relaxed in the coming days. Starting Friday, restaurants can seat up to four people per table, and gaming centers, mahjong parlors and sports facilities will be allowed to operate again.

Restaurant dine-in hours were extended to 10pm, and gyms reopened, last week.
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