Hong Kong officials announced on Monday (8 August) that the city will ease COVID quarantine rules in an effort to help restore the Hong Kong’s status as a top financial hub in Asia. The special administrative region of China will make travellers to the city spend three days in hotel quarantine with an additional four days of health monitoring.
Hong Kong’s new chief executive, John Lee, announced the four-day monitoring period carries relatively loose rules, with travellers able to leave their homes and only restricted from high-risk places. The new rules come into effect Friday.
Officials also unveiled a tiered health-code system similar to that in use on the mainland with a yellow code given to inbound travellers once they finish mandatory quarantine, while anyone testing positive will be given a red code. A blue code will be shown in the city’s LeaveHomeSafe app once the quarantine or health monitoring period has ended.
The new rules follow the removal of flight suspensions in July that imposed snap bans on certain routes if an airline inadvertently brought in passengers infected with COVID. “We want to reduce the impact from quarantine on our economic activities as well as our connection with the world,” Lee said.
The city’s strict rules, and those in China, stand in contrast to the rest of the world where most countries have done away with COVID quarantines for vaccinated travellers. Reduced quarantine may not entirely ease headaches for travel into Hong Kong. Rooms are in short supply, costs are high, while anyone who is infected in the days before their trip are forced to delay travel. Once inside the city, public gatherings of more than four people are still banned and masks are mandatory.
Lee said the new government recommendations were based on scientific data, which showed travellers’ risk level after three days “is no more than the risk level of transmission in society”.
“Based on this analysis, we consider that the risk is under control, and balance it against the needs for other activities to take place. This new measure of ‘3+4’ will be in the best interests of Hong Kong,” Lee said. “I must emphasise that during the fourth day of medical surveillance, there are also PCR checks, so we will know if there are any changes in risks.”