On Friday, officials in Hong Kong declared the end of hotel quarantine for incoming travelers as the administration works to restore the city’s damaged reputation as a major financial hub.
Visitors and returning residents will not be required to stay in isolation in a designated hotel beginning Sept. 26. For the first three days in the city, they will be allowed to go to work and use public transportation, but not to go to restaurants or bars.
Faced with a deteriorating economy, an exodus of foreigners, and concerns that the financial center once known as “Asia’s World City” is falling behind as the rest of the world emerges from the pandemic, the Hong Kong government has come under intense pressure from the business community and some public health officials to ease restrictions.
In a highly anticipated press conference, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced Friday that infection rates in the city have stabilized, allowing the quarantine to be lifted.
“We hope to give the maximum room to reconnect Hong Kong, and to revitalize our economy,” Lee said.
Arriving tourists have the option of conducting their three-day self-observation at home or at another location of their choice. During this time, they are allowed to leave their accommodation, but some areas will be off-limits.
Arriving passengers will no longer be required to present a negative PCR test before boarding an aircraft. However, they must present a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) 24 hours before boarding.
During the three-day self-surveillance period, people will be given an amber color under the city’s digital health code that prohibits them from visiting establishments such as pubs or restaurants.
PCR tests must be completed on days 2, 4 and 6 following arrival, and a RAT test must be done every day for seven days, as per CNN.
The policy change followed Japan’s announcement that it would reopen its borders beginning Oct. 11 and Taiwan’s announcement that it would lift its mandatory quarantine on Oct. 13, if the island has passed the peak of the recent Omicron BA -5 outbreak.