Hong Kong, Singapore 'travel bubble' delayed indefinitely

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The arrangement allowing travel between the financial hubs without quarantining had been due to launch on November 22

Hong Kong and Singapore on Tuesday indefinitely delayed a "travel bubble" in a new blow to their hard-hit tourism and aviation industries as the Chinese city battles a coronavirus surge.

The arrangement allowing people to travel between the financial hubs without quarantining had been due to launch on November 22, but was postponed for two weeks as Hong Kong saw a sudden spike in cases.

The delay was not just a blow to the cities, but also other countries which had been hoping the scheme might be a model to replicate during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, both cities announced that the bubble would be further deferred to an unspecified date beyond 2020.

The decision was taken "in view of the severity of the epidemic situation in Hong Kong with the number of local cases of unknown sources increasing rapidly," the Hong Kong government said in a statement.

Singapore is a major market for Hong Kong's tourism industry with more than 450,000 arrivals from the city-state recorded in 2019, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Hong Kong was among the top 15 visitor sources for Singapore last year, with nearly half a million arrivals, official data showed.

Hong Kong on Monday reimposed social distancing measures at some of their strictest levels since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as daily cases rise sharply.

Restrictions on public gatherings were tightened with a maximum of two people allowed to meet, down from four, while non-essential civil servants were asked to work from home.

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