Hong Kong is one of the few places around the world that, until recently, still had very strict Covid-19 measures, including quarantine on arrival for everybody coming onto the territory. Starting 26 September, incoming travellers are no longer required to quarantine at the designated hotels, nor take a PCR test before departure.
1. The end of Covid-19 hotels
The end of the measures was announced on Friday by John Lee, Hong Kong’s chief executive. “While we can’t control the trend of the epidemic, we must allow the maximum room for connectivity with the world so that we can have economic momentum and reduce inconvenience to arriving travellers”, he said. Lee also ensured that the decision is final and authorities will not return to the strict measures.
As of Monday, 26 September, travellers going to Hong Kong no longer have to quarantine at the infamous Covid-19 hotels, nor take a PCR test within 48 hours before departure. The only pre-departure requirement is now a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours before departure.
At arrival, visitors will still be monitored and not allowed to enter bars or restaurants for three days, during which they need to take daily antigen tests. If the results are negative after the three days, then they will be allowed into venues, while still needing to continue the daily testing for up to 7 days.
PCR tests are also mandatory on arrival and on days 2, 4 and 6 of the stay. If any of the tests during these seven days of observation come back positive, then the person will need to isolate for at least 7 days.
2. Businesses ask for more
The measures associated with the zero-Covid policy have impaired the business sector in the city. Residents and business have relocated over the past few years, most of them to Singapore, who has managed to overtake Hong Kong as Asia’s top financial centre.
The relaxations are welcome as they represent major improvements. But we hope that the government can shed some light on the last mile: under what conditions will all the restrictions be removed so that we can be on par with international financial centres?Sally Wong, CEO at Hong Kong Investment Funds Association
The city is suffering from a brain drain, Hong Kong Investment Funds Association reporting that over one third of fund-management companies moved some or all of their regional and global roles abroad. “Singapore has been a major beneficiary of this talent outflow: they have succeeded in attracting many of our best and brightest people, as well as many of our most promising young businesses”, said Ben Quinlan, chief executive officer at consulting firm Quinlan & Associates.
A few high-profile events are to take place in Hong Kong by the end of the year, to show the city still holds a central place on the global stage. Among others, an international banking summit and the Rugby Sevens tournament will be held in November.