I recently wrote about how the return of Phase 2 conditions from 8-30 May 2021 would impact travel and leisure plans.
It speaks volumes about how fluid the COVID-19 situation is that barely 10 days later, we’re staring down the barrel of an even stricter set of measures, aptly named Phase 2 (Heightened Alert). These will run from 16 May to 13 June 2021, with further extensions possible if the situation does not improve.
Let’s once again look at the impact on air travel, staycations, cruises and attraction bookings.
|Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) Measures|
General Air Travel
Where air travel is concerned, the main change from my previous article is that arrivals from Vietnam will now be required to serve a 21-day SHN at dedicated SHN facilities. They could previously serve 14 days at a dedicated SHN facility, and see out the remaining seven at their own residence.
With the exception of arrivals from Australia, Brunei, China, and New Zealand, all other passengers will have to serve some form of quarantine as shown below:
|Arriving From||SHN Duration|
|🇭🇰||Hong Kong SAR||7 days at place of residence|
|🇲🇴||Macao SAR||7 days at place of residence|
|🌏||All other countries||🆕 21 days in SDF*|
|*SDF= SHN Dedicated Facility. Arrivals from Fiji have the option to serve the last 7 days in their own residence|
SHN guests will be required to cover the incremental S$1,000 cost arising from the additional week’s stay (total: S$3,000 plus testing), even if they entered Singapore under the old 14-day regime.
Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble
My hope was that the return to Phase 2 would boost the prospects of the Hong Kong ATB actually taking off, but it now looks almost certain we’ll see another postponement.
Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau said yesterday that there was a “high chance” the ATB would not proceed as usual. These sentiments were echoed by Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, who said a decision would be made early next week.
“The assessment is: Given the rising cases in Singapore, it is very likely that Singapore will not be able to meet the resumption criteria
“What we’ll do now is closely monitor the numbers next few days, critically review the start date and early next week, we will make a decision and make an announcement on the Singapore, Hong Kong air travel bubble”
-Ong Ye Kung
While the seven-day moving average of unlinked community cases in Singapore sits at 2.29, below the threshold of five required to trigger a suspension, the trajectory at this point is very clear.
No change to final daily tally.https://t.co/cvClIb1jgV
— Aaron 🇭🇰 (@tripperhead) May 14, 2021
My guess is we’ll see the ATB suspended at least until the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period ends on 13 June 2021. This all depends on what the caseloads look like, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of further delays.
Based on what happened the last time, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific should offer full refunds in the event that the ATB bursts. Both already offer unlimited complimentary changes to dates and destinations under their existing policies.
Staycations will be permitted to continue during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), with a limitation of no more than two people to a guestroom. Families with the same residential address may have more than two people to a guestroom, subject to existing guidelines.
However, a growing number of hotels are converting to all-SHN facilities, or increasing the allocation of rooms set aside for this purpose. Guests at Park Hotels and Dorsett have had their staycation bookings cancelled, and it looks like the Sheraton and Four Points Singapore have also stopped taking bookings from the public right now.
The bigger question is whether a staycation will even be worth doing during this period.
- F&B outlets will only allow take-away (i.e no buffet breakfast)
- Gyms remain closed, as per the previous Phase 2 conditions
- Swimming pools can remain open, but with the maximum group size down to just two people and the requirement for 3-meter separation between groups, usable capacity will be severely restricted
- Spas can continue operations, but services which require masks to be removed will need to cease
Some have remarked that it’s not much different from being in a quarantine hotel, and I see where they’re coming from. You’ll need to eat in your room, most of the facilities will be unavailable or severely capacity restricted, and well, it’s not like you’re paying any less.
Klook is permitting free-of-charge date changes to any booking with a stay date between 16 May and 13 June 2021. It’s less clear what happens with cancellations, which according to their Facebook post are “subject to the terms and conditions of the package booked.”
Trip.com is permitting free cancellations for hotel bookings with a stay period between 16 May and 13 June 2021, provided the bookings were made before 2359 on 14 May 2021. Cancellations can be made via the Trip.com app, or by emailing customer service.
If you have made bookings with SRV, the value of the vouchers redeemed will be refunded to your SRV account after the refund process is implemented by the STB.
While cruises are still allowed to sail, the maximum capacity will be cut even further from 50% to 25%. Normally I’d say that’s great for passenger experience, except there won’t be a whole lot to do onboard…
Dream Cruise will continue to operate its scheduled cruises, with the following modifications:
- Onboard guest capacity will be further reduced to 25%
- Traveling groups limited to 2 guests per cabin
- Temporary suspension of dine-in service at onboard restaurants with take-away and room
service options available
- Temporary suspension of outdoor sports and exercise activities or any activities without
face-masks in accordance with government guidelines
- Permitted onboard activities will continue to operate at reduced capacity and with enhanced social safe distancing measures
Just like staycations, it’s hard to see how this becomes anything other than a floating SHN. You’ll have to take meals in your cabin, show venues will be capped at 50 people, and it sounds like the pool won’t be available, much less the rock wall, waterslide park, or rope course.
Guests with sailing dates from 16 May to 13 June 2021 will have the option to receive a future cruise credit for the full amount of their cruise, redeemable on any World Dream voyage departing Singapore from 16 June 2021 to 31 March 2022. Guests will receive a further bonus onboard credit as follows:
- 3-night Sunday cruise- S$75 per cabin
- 2-night Wednesday/Friday cruise- S$50 per cabin
Guests may also chose to cancel their cruise and receive a full refund.
Royal Caribbean will also continue to operate its scheduled cruises, with the following modifications:
- Reducing guest capacity to 25%, group sizes to 2, thus allowing at least 16 sqm of distancing per guest in public venues
- Restaurants will be closed, guests are able to enjoy room service with main dining room selections. Takeaway will also be offered from several restaurants
- Capacity for live entertainment shows will be reduced to maximum of 50 guests and live singing will not be available
- Permitted onboard activities, like those in SeaPlex, Activity Zone and Pool Zone, will continue to operate at reduced capacity and with enhanced social distancing measures
- Masks will be required in the indoor pool
Guests can cancel their bookings and opt to receive a 100% future cruise credit. Customers who prefer a refund instead will need to contact Royal Caribbean at +65 6305 0033.
Note: While the email sent out by Royal Caribbean states that you can call to receive a refund instead of a future cruise credit, I’ve heard mixed reports about success. Some have received it, others are told it’s not possible. It’s a classic case of YMMV, but the email seems to make it pretty clear. Hang up and call again, if you meet an agent who refuses to process a refund.
Existing safety measures on Royal already restrict guests to booking a maximum of one show each (two for suites; that’s the official policy but YMMV), with the fitness centre also out of operation. Suffice to say, I don’t think you’ll have anywhere near as much fun as I did in January, and it’s probably best to postpone.
Attractions may continue to operate, although the reduction in capacity from 50% to 25% may require them to cancel certain bookings or reassign timeslots. When in doubt, check with the attraction operator whether your booking is still valid.
Klook is will contact customers regarding the rebooking of fixed-date tickets, and will extend the validity of open-dated tickets past 14 June 2021.
Trip.com is offering complimentary rescheduling for attraction bookings. Customers will need to reach out via email to get these processed.
The further tightening of measures will no doubt throw a spanner into many people’s June holiday plans, but at least it stops short of a full circuit breaker. We now have roughly a month to see whether this halts the community spread of COVID-19, so keep masking up and get vaccinated if you’re eligible.
I fully expect the Hong Kong ATB to be further delayed beyond 26 May, but really, the missed opportunity for leisure travel is nothing compared to the disappointment those traveling to see family must be feeling. I’m sure the ATB will happen eventually, but for now it looks like later rather than sooner.