Hong Kong will lower international guests’ obligatory hotel quarantine from one week to three days. The southern Chinese city, along with mainland China, is one of the only sites in the world that requires a quarantine to prevent tourists from transmitting COVID-19 to the local population. When it goes into effect, the policy will be Hong Kong’s shortest quarantine for arrivals since the pandemic began.
Arriving tourists will be quarantined for three days in a designated hotel, followed by four days of medical observation during which their activities would be restricted via a health code system, according to Hong Kong leader John Lee. Lee explained that the new policy of just three days in quarantine was implemented after scientific facts and statistics were reviewed to account for risk factors.
The regulatory changes to COVID-19 come despite an increase in daily infections, which municipal health authorities have warned might double to 8,000 in the coming weeks. During their weeks of quarantine and observation, tourists will be tested for COVID-19 regularly, and those who are infected will be isolated. People who test negative can utilize public transit and go to shops and marketplaces, but they can’t go to pubs, amusement parks, or visit nursing homes, schools, or some medical facilities.
For the majority of the pandemic, Hong Kong implemented arguably of the world’s harshest COVID-19 entry restrictions. These regulations have harmed the city’s tourism economy and hindered business travel in the city noted for being an international financial and commercial center.
Sally Wong, CEO of the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association, praised the quarantine decrease, calling it a “significant step forward.”
“But what can move the dial … how can we go from three days to zero,” Wong said. “Many conferences, meetings, etc. are planned months in advance and if the government can shed light on the next steps, that would be extremely helpful.”
Since the pandemic began, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people have fled the city. Many businesses have also relocated to Singapore, where quarantine-free travel has resumed.