Hong Kong, similar to a handful of Asian and non-Asian countries, has had strict Covid requirements since the pandemic began 2.5 years ago. As a special administrative region (SAR) of China, many of its Covid rules have been, shall we say, “China inspired.” With that, Hong Kong continues to have some of the strictest Covid measures in the world even as most countries in the region drop restrictions (even in JAPAN!) and open borders to travelers.
However even Hong Kong is willing to admit that Covid is not the threat it once was, and Chief Executive John Lee has taken several steps to ease the city’s isolation since he was sworn into office on July 1.
For example, in August, he decreased the required hotel quarantine minimum stay from seven days to just three (followed by 4 days of curtained activities, including not entering restaurants, theaters, etc.). And last week the city agreed that incoming travelers who test positive for Covid-19 could remain in their quarantine hotels instead of being transferred to isolation hotels or community facilities (both of which have had horrible reputations).
However Oriental Daily is reporting that the Director of the Medical and Health Bureau, Lu Chongmao, is actively considering improving the current hotel quarantine plan for travelers arriving into the country. Instead of 3 days of quarantine and 4 days of limited activities, Hong Kong may change it to 7 days of self-monitoring. The SAR’s leaders are also considering easing some social distancing rules.
Hong Kong’s leaders could announce these changes as early as this week, although the implementation of same could still be delayed a number of weeks.
“We know exactly where we should be heading and want to be consistent as we move in that direction. We would like to have an orderly opening-up…because we don’t want to have chaos or confusion in the process,” John Lee told reporters.
It should be noted that even with the elimination of the requirement of quarantine hotels, Hong Kong still has a lot of Covid-related restrictions in place. For travelers, they include:
- People are required to wear masks at almost all times
- Health codes are checked when dining inside restaurants
- Limits on public gatherings remain, as do restrictions on how many people can sit together at a restaurant
- Bar patrons must show a negative Covid test that was taken in the previous 24 hours
But for those who want to visit Hong Kong, the possibility of not having to start their travels in a quarantine hotel is definitely good news.
Feature photo: momo / Wikimedia / CC by 2.0 license
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