Hong Kong signals COVID quarantine policy change, wants orderly opening

Hong Kong signals COVID quarantine policy change, wants orderly opening

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HONG KONG, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Hong Kong said on Tuesday it plans to make an announcement soon on its controversial COVID-19 hotel quarantine policy for all arrivals as it wants to keep the city connected with the rest of the world. world and allow an “orderly opening”.

City Leader John Lee said he was aware Hong Kong needed to retain its competitiveness, adding that authorities wanted to bring events and activities back to the city.

“We know exactly where we should be heading and we want to be consistent as we move in that direction. We would like to have an orderly opening…because we don’t want to have chaos or confusion in the process,” he said. he told reporters.

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Taking a cue from China which is pursuing a zero-COVID policy, Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world that still requires foreign travelers to self-quarantine upon arrival, although the length of quarantine has eased with time. Currently, arrivals must pay for three days in a hotel and follow that with four days of self-checking.

The hotel portion will now be scrapped and replaced with seven days of self-monitoring, sources quoted by the South China Morning Post said. Under current self-monitoring rules, people can stay at home, but they have to get tested and there are limits on their movements.

The changes could be announced this week, other local media reported.

Business groups, diplomats and many residents have criticized hotel quarantine rules, in place since March 2020, as well as the city’s other COVID restrictions, saying they threaten Hong Kong’s position as a global financial center.

The rules have fueled an exodus of expats and local families that has been sparked by Beijing’s efforts to exert control over the former British colony and limit freedoms. Some 113,000 people have left since mid-2021, according to government figures.

The rules have also forced airlines to abandon dozens of flight routes to and from Hong Kong, which once had one of the busiest airports in the world, while many events have been canceled or postponed. .

By contrast, rival financial hub Singapore is hosting a series of high-profile conferences this month that have seen business boom for hotels and restaurants. Read more

As part of its efforts to get things back on track, Hong Kong plans to host a major financial conference and international rugby 7s in November. The bankers said traveling without quarantine is a prerequisite for attending the conference.

It is unclear if other COVID restrictions will also be relaxed. Hong Kong still bans public groups of more than four people, and masks are mandatory, even for children as young as two.

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Reporting by Farah Master and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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