Hong Kong’s leader has announced that the city will no longer quarantine incoming travelers at designated hotels as the city aims to open globally after nearly two years.
Most important points:
- Incoming travelers are not required to take a PCR test within 48 hours before boarding a plane to Hong Kong
- They must instead provide a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test performed within 24 hours of boarding
- John Lee said the measures will come into effect on Monday
Inbound travelers will also no longer need a negative PCR test within 48 hours before boarding a plane to Hong Kong, city administrator John Lee said at a news conference on Friday.
Instead, they must provide a negative COVID-19 result from a rapid antigen test conducted within 24 hours of boarding the flight.
All international arrivals will be able to return home or to accommodation of their choice, but will be required to self-check three days after entering China’s Special Administrative Center, the government said.
People are allowed to go to work or school, but are not allowed to enter bars or restaurants for three days.
The measures will come into effect on Monday.
“While we can control the trend of the epidemic, we need to provide the maximum space to allow connectivity to the world so that we can have economic momentum and reduce the inconvenience for arriving travelers,” said Mr Lee, who also said that the authorities will not reverse the measures announced Friday.
He said there must be a “balance between risk and economic growth”.
Travelers entering Hong Kong will be required to undergo home monitoring for three days from Monday. If they test negative for COVID-19 after three days, they will be allowed to enter locations such as restaurants and bars.
For nearly two years, Hong Kong overseas arrivals in the city required them to undergo a period of mandatory quarantine at designated hotels.
At one point, the city had one of the longest quarantine periods in the world, with 21 days of mandatory isolation.
The easing of measures comes as Hong Kong prepares to host several high-profile events, including the Rugby Sevens tournament in November and an international banking summit.
Neighboring Taiwan is expected to do the same next month with travel restrictions.
This makes mainland China one of the few places in the world where travelers are still quarantined upon arrival.
Hong Kong has aligned itself with China’s “zero-COVID” strategy for most of the pandemic.
Over the past two and a half years, Hong Kong authorities have imposed strict social distancing measures and closed residential buildings with confirmed COVID-19 infections to mass-test residents.