Travel Insurance

The Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble: 5 Ways to Prepare for Travel in a Pandemic

As Singapore returns to Phase 2 with stricter measures on social gatherings, many are still hopeful that the Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble will launch as scheduled, on May 26 2021. If you’re excited about the possibility of visiting Hong Kong or another country, keep reading to find out what precautions to take before travelling abroad during the pandemic.

It’s been over a year since COVID-19 began spreading and with the recent rise of new variants, the pandemic shows no sign of abating in many parts of the world. However, Singapore has been doing well in terms of containing community infections. According to Bloomberg, Singapore has recently dethroned New Zealand as the World’s Best Place to Be During Covid. Despite minor setbacks such as the TTSH cluster, the overall situation remains under control and many people are looking forward to the Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble which is scheduled to launch on May 26. Below we outline ways to prepare before traveling to Hong Kong (or other countries) during the pandemic.

1. Get Vaccinated For Peace of Mind

Both the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are being provided to Singaporean citizens and long-term residents for free. So far, Singapore has administered at least 2,213,888 doses of COVID vaccines. Assuming that every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 19.4% of the country’s population. Singapore hopes to have enough vaccines for everyone by the end of this year.

While some people may be concerned about possible unknown side effects of the vaccine, a Phase 3 trial study has shown that the Pfizer vaccine has neutralised the virus with and without mutations and that the most common side effects of this vaccine include fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, and injection site redness. On a positive note, these symptoms may only last for a few days and being vaccinated will significantly reduce your chance of getting infected by Covid-19 or passing the infection to others when you’re traveling abroad. This will also help you feel at ease if you will travel to a country that still has active COVID-19 infections.

2. Avoid Travelling to High Risk Countries

Currently, there are more than 70 countries with no formal restrictions on entry by air, but may require mandatory testing or Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) upon arrival. This includes parts of Latin America, parts of the Balkans, parts of Africa, Belarus, and more. However, some of these countries are designated as high risk. For instance Brazil has more than 50,000 cases per day. More recently, India has become the new global epicentre of the pandemic, accounting for 46% of the new COVID-19 cases.

Most of the countries without any travel restrictions are still in some stage of lockdown, limiting your tourist experience. Thus, you should do your due diligence to ensure you are up to date with the latest travel advisories and avoid visiting high risk nations. Besides Hong Kong, other low risk countries to consider traveling to include New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

3. Take Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test Before Travelling

At this point, most countries now require a negative Covid-19 test result to enter. This includes popular tourist destinations like the United States and most of the Asia Pacific. Depending on when Singapore reopens its borders, you may either have to show proof of a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination.

What is the cost of a PCR swab test in Singapore?

Cost of a PCR swab test in Singapore

However, while reports of just how effective the vaccines are at preventing spread are still circulating, a PCR test may still be the basis of proof for the time being. In this case, even when borders do eventually open for leisure travel, it may be worth showing proof that you don’t carry the virus to avoid being turned away at customs and immigration upon your arrival. Currently, testing costs are capped at S$200 (including GST) and you will no longer need to receive approval before taking a voluntary PCR test.

4. Shop Around For the Right Travel Insurance

Whether you’re planning to visit Hong Kong or another country when their borders eventually open up for travel, be prepared for any disruption to your travel plans. Travelling during the ongoing pandemic can be tricky as countries around the world have different entry and SHN requirements for travellers. As the Covid-19 situation develops, you should also be aware of flight changes and possible cancellations. Furthermore, the costs of PCR tests, quarantine at hotels, and flight tickets will quickly add up. To prevent any sunk costs, check the travel restrictions and entry requirements of your travel destination.

The unpredictable nature of travel during the pandemic has elevated the need for travel insurance. But navigating the fine print and finding the right insurance can be challenging. For this reason, consider purchasing an affordable, comprehensive, and flexible travel insurance plan as you plan your trip to Hong Kong or another travel destination in 2021. As you shop around, consider DirectAsia’s travel insurance plans, as they start from as little as S$14 and offer highly customised options that cater around your travel needs. Their travel insurance can cover up to S$200,000 in medical expenses as well as up to S$3,000 for loss or damage to your personal belongings. Depending on your travel experience, you may also want to opt for additional coverage, such as protection for extreme activities or sports equipment.

5. The Usual Safety Precautions May Still Be in Effect

Even after you’re vaccinated, you should still take the usual safety precautions mandated by the government of the country that you plan to visit. This means always wearing a surgical mask or a fabric mask when travelling abroad, following the recommended social distancing rules, and washing your hands frequently. Until the world is declared Covid-19 free, the battle against the virus remains ongoing.

Whether you plan on travelling to Hong Kong or to another country in the coming months, consider purchasing the right travel insurance as you book your flights and hotels. In the meantime, why not consider domestic tourism to satisfy your wanderlust? Use your SingapoRediscover vouchers to save on local attractions including staycations or getaway by taking a cruise.

Pooja Khandelwal

Pooja is a Content Marketing Lead at ValueChampion Singapore. She is responsible for planning and executing sponsored content projects and building relationships with media partners. In addition, she evaluates financial products for consumers based on quantitative and qualitative analysis. Pooja holds degrees in Economics and Psychology from Rutgers University. Her prior work experience includes founding and leading a content marketing consultancy and working at eCommerce, AI, and B2B SaaS startups in Singapore. Pooja has contributed insights to Tech in Asia, Yahoo!, and many other publications. Connect with her on LinkedIn to collaborate on content.

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