Hong Kong Could Announce Quarantine-Free Travel This Week
Hong Kong could detail plans to end hotel quarantine for inbound travellers in a move designed to trumpet the financial hub’s revival.
The announcement could come as soon as this week, with arrivals instead required to undergo self-monitoring for seven days, the newspaper said, citing unidentified people. The implementation date is undecided as it will affect existing operations for the airline and hotel industries, it said.
Hong Kong, along with mainland China, has kept in place some of the strictest Covid measures in the world even as most countries in the region drop restrictions and open borders to travellers.
There have been concerns raised about whether visitors will attend a proposed banker summit and the renowned Rugby Sevens tournament later this year, given that those arriving in the financial hub are required to stay for three days in a designated hotel and then are subject to prohibitions from bars and restaurants for four days.
“Ideally, if we can do this by November – zero days of quarantine – it will be very much helpful for us to organize these huge events,” said Holden Chow, a lawmaker and vice chairman of the largest political party in Hong Kong’s legislature. “Our final goal is to reach zero days, so they could also do it on a step-by-step or gradual basis.”
The city's position has up to this point been in line with China's unwavering pursuit of a Covid Zero strategy, which seeks to eradicate the virus rather than simply cope with it. Hong Kong's aim to ease border restrictions before November has been accelerated by recent actions by other nations.
The report stated without providing any more information that the administration also intended to relax several social exclusionary practises.
Since a spike in Covid infections and fatalities in March signalled a clear break from the mainland, which continues to impose stringent lockdowns and protracted quarantines in an effort to maintain cases at or below zero, Hong Kong has gradually loosened pandemic restrictions.
Incoming passengers who test positive for Covid-19 can stay in their quarantine hotels rather than being moved to isolation rooms or communal facilities like the infamous Penny's Bay, the city announced last week. There have been some possible attendees who have stated they won't go to high-profile events in Hong Kong if there is a chance they will be taken to quarantine facilities.
Even though Singapore and other competing Asian cities have removed all pandemic restrictions, Hong Kong's administration has been unwilling to fully open up, even reducing hotel quarantine from 21 days to three days.
In addition to the border regulations, Hong Kong continues to enforce some of the tightest Covid regulations still in place, while dealing with thousands of new infections every day.
Masks are nearly always necessary, eating establishments must adhere to health rules, and daily quick antigen testing is required of schoolchildren. Limits on public meetings and the number of diners seated at a table concurrently are still in place, and clients of bars must present proof of a recent negative Covid test.