HONG KONG (TBEN) – Hong Kong’s leader announced that the city will no longer quarantine incoming travelers at designated hotels as the city aims to open globally after nearly two years.
Inbound travelers will also no longer need a negative PCR test within 48 hours before boarding a plane to Hong Kong, the city’s chief executive John Lee said at a news conference Friday. Instead, they must provide a negative COVID-19 result from a rapid antigen test performed within 24 hours of boarding the flight.
The measures will take effect on Monday.
“While we can control the trend of the epidemic, we need to provide the maximum space to allow connectivity to the world so that we can have economic momentum and reduce the inconvenience for arriving travelers,” said Lee, who also said the authorities do not reverse the measures announced on Friday.
He said there must be a “balance between risk and economic growth”.
From Monday, travelers to Hong Kong will be required to undergo three days of home monitoring. If they test negative for COVID-19 after three days, they will be allowed to enter locations such as restaurants and bars.
For nearly two years, Hong Kong overseas arrivals in the city required them to undergo a period of mandatory quarantine at designated hotels. At one point, the city had one of the longest quarantine periods in the world, with 21 days of mandatory isolation.
The easing of measures comes as Hong Kong prepares to host several high-profile events, including the Rugby Sevens tournament in November and an international banking summit.
Neighboring Taiwan is expected to do the same next month. This makes mainland China one of the few places in the world where travelers are still quarantined upon arrival.
Hong Kong has aligned itself with China’s “zero-COVID” strategy for most of the pandemic.
Over the past 2 1/2 years, Hong Kong authorities have imposed strict social distancing measures and closed residential buildings with confirmed COVID-19 infections to mass-test residents.