Hong Kong (finally) reduces mandatory quarantines for travelers

From this Friday, August 12, new arrivals to Hong Kong will only have to stay three nights instead of seven in quarantine hotels designated by the authorities. They will be able to stay for the next four days wherever they wish even if their freedom of movement will remain “limited”, report it South China Morning Post.

“The decision was made after analysis of scientific data which showed that the majority of coronavirus cases could be detected within the first three days of isolation,” said Secretary of State for Health Lo Chung-mau. In fact, according to statistics collected from July 8 to August 4, nearly 50% of positive cases from abroad were detected at the airport and 80% after two days of quarantine in dedicated hotels.

John Lee Ka-chiu, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, justifies this relaxation by stressing the importance of “strike a balance between economic needs and health risks”.

Freedom under conditions

According to the new protocol, travelers will be able to leave their quarantine hotel on the morning of their fourth day there if the result of the PCR test carried out the day before is negative. They will enjoy semi-freedom until the tenth day of their stay, while monitoring their state of health through a series of tests to be carried out during the following days.

During the four days of the transition, they will be able to use public transport and frequent spaces that do not require a vaccination pass at the entrance, such as their place of work or shops. However, they will not be able to access places at risk, such as schools or retirement homes.

To facilitate the implementation of this protocol, a color code has been developed by the authorities. Travelers will need to install the latest version of the Leave Home Safe app and will be assigned a color according to their state. The color will be displayed on their phone thanks to a QR code to be presented during checks. Red denotes a positive case, blue was assigned to negative cases that have completed their isolation period. For people in transition, negative and on day parole for four days, the color yellow will appear.

Travelers who test positive before their third day of arrival will be sent to isolation centers set up by the government.

The business community still not satisfied

The announcement of this next relaxation of health rules had an immediate effect: flight reservations to Hong Kong jumped. “As of Monday, the number of reservations to the financial center increased by 249% compared to the previous day”, revealed Bloombergaccording to information from Trip.com, Hong Kong’s largest online travel agency.

A surge in bookings which likely reflects increased demand from travelers usually residing on the mainland – where very strict health restrictions are still in place – “and looking to use Hong Kong as a stopover” to other destinations.

On the side of foreign companies established in Hong Kong, on the other hand, there is continued pressure for the outright abolition of the last health measures linked to the zero Covid strategy. “Several of Wall Street’s biggest banks are making it a prerequisite for their senior executives to attend a conference scheduled for November and designed to mark the rebirth of the financial hub,” écrit Bloomberg.


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