How soon will Hong Kong end covid requirements?
Hong Kong could detail plans to end hotel quarantines for inbound travelers in a bid to trumpet the revival of the financial hub, the Oriental Daily reported.
The announcement could come as soon as this week, with arrivals to be subject to self-monitoring for seven days, the newspaper said, citing unidentified people. The implementation date is undecided as it will affect existing operations in the airline and hotel sectors, he said.
Hong Kong, along with mainland China, has kept some of the strictest Covid measures in place in the world, even as most countries in the region are dropping restrictions and opening borders to travellers. With people arriving in the financial hub forced to spend three days in a designated hotel, followed by four days of restrictions from bars and restaurants, questions have been raised over whether visitors will come to a summit offered by the bankers and the iconic rugby sevens tournament later this year. .
The city’s stance followed China’s unwavering pursuit of a Covid Zero strategy that aims to eliminate the virus rather than live with it. Recent moves by other countries have accelerated Hong Kong’s plan to ease border measures before November, the Oriental Daily said, citing unidentified politicians. The city government also plans to relax some social distancing measures, the report said without giving further details.
Chief executive John Lee has taken a number of steps to ease the city’s isolation since he was sworn in on July 1. Last month it cut the hotel’s minimum quarantine stay to three days from seven as it faces pressure to completely shed rules like rival hubs such as Singapore, New York and London have fully reopened. Hong Kong’s top epidemiologists have called for their dismantling, as has Peter Woo, one of the city’s wealthiest property tycoons.
The city said last week that incoming travelers who test positive for Covid-19 can stay in their quarantine hotels instead of being moved to isolation hotels or community facilities like the infamous Penny’s Bay. Some potential visitors to Hong Kong’s high profile events said they would not attend if there was a risk they would be sent to quarantine facilities.
In addition to border rules, Hong Kong retains some of the toughest remaining Covid measures in the world as it grapples with thousands of new infections every day. People are required to wear masks almost all the time, health codes are checked when dining, and students are required to take rapid antigen tests daily. Limits on public gatherings remain, as do restrictions on the number of people who can sit together in a restaurant while bar patrons must show a negative Covid test in the previous 24 hours.
The disagreement over Hong Kong rules has revealed deep divisions among the city’s elite over the handling of the pandemic. The debate intensified on Friday after the former chief executive of the Hospital Authority criticized the slow process of reopening the city.
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