A travel corridor between Hong Kong and Singapore due to launch Sunday was delayed as a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections hit the Special Administrative Region.
City health authorities announced a three month high of 73 daily cases Monday on the heels of more than 110 new infections over the weekend.
The bulk of the cases have been traced back to a "super-spreading" event associated with 14 dance class studios across Hong Kong which has infected roughly 80 people and put a serious wrench in travel plans.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.'s December flights on the Singapore-Hong Kong route had nearly sold out, according to executive director Ronald Lam. Residents has jumped at the chance to be one of 200 people in either location to travel on special flights without needing to quarantine on arrival.
But the airline is now facing a serious financial hit after the government delayed the travel bubble's launch by two weeks.
The last-minute itinerary change comes as the rolling seven-day average of untraced COVID-19 infections in Hong Kong surpassed five Sunday and the travel bubble delay is likely to be one of many precautions taken in the following days.
"We are keeping an eye on the Centre for Health Protection's epidemiological investigations to decide how far the social-distancing measures should be tightened," Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said Monday.
Outside of the dance studio cluster, a spate of local infections hit Hong Kong on Monday causing several schools and recreational centers - including the Hong Kong Cricket Club - to temporarily shut.
In a bid to reduce transmissions, authorities stepped up mandatory testing Saturday and asked anyone who visited the studios since Nov. 1 to take a test and submit results to officials by Tuesday.
They launched an HK$5,000 ($645) compensation scheme for residents who test positive - which "can encourage low-income residents who may be worried about losing their salaries to come forward and get tested," Chan said Sunday.