Travelers to Hong Kong no longer need to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival.
But they will have to undergo multiple Covid tests.
They can go to work, take public transport and go to supermarkets, but for that first three days travelers cannot enter “high-risk premises” such as restaurants, bars and gyms.
Visitors planning the eight-day trip must undergo 12 tests — four PCR and eight rapid antigen tests — an average of 1.5 tests per day.
Plus, those who test positive should be isolated in a public institution at least a week.
Still, the relaxed rules are welcome news for city dwellers, who have tightened hotel quarantine restrictions for up to three weeks at various points during the pandemic.
The news comes a day after Hong Kong lost its No. 1 spot. Surpassing Singapore, which rose three places to rank 3rd in the Global Financial Centers Index Hong Kong and Shanghai – to be the best financial center in Asia.
The new rulesEffective Monday, travelers are required to:
- Test negative with a self-administered rapid antigen test
- Report the test result in the online health declaration
- Receive a health declaration QR code to be presented before departure and upon arrival
- Be vaccinated or have a medical exemption certificate to enter (if non-resident and aged 12 or over)
Upon arrival, travelers:
- Take a PCR test at the airport, then again on days 2, 4 and 6 (date of arrival is 0 days)
- Perform daily rapid antigen tests from day 1 to day 7
- Undergo three days of medical supervision, during which they must avoid places such as restaurants, nightclubs and lounges.
- Follow a four-day self-monitoring period
A rush to get out, less interest in getting in
According to travel booking company Expedia, interest in the flights announced on Friday has surged.
According to Expedia, searches for flights from Hong Kong to Japan increased 10 times in the three days following the announcement compared to the previous week, and searches for flights to Taiwan increased 12 times during the same period.
The top flight searches on Expedia by Hong Kong travelers over the weekend were:
- Osaka, Japan
- Tokyo, Japan
- Seoul, South Korea
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Sapporo, Japan
- Taipei, Taiwan
- Taichung, Taiwan
- Fukuoka, Japan
- London, United Kingdom
However, interest in traveling to Hong Kong was cooler.
Expedia’s search data for accommodation in Hong Kong increased by 50% over the weekend compared to the week before the announcement.
Interest in visiting Hong Kong was not dominated by regional travelers either. According to Expedia’s flight search data, the UK, Canada and the US were the top inbound markets.
Pang Yiu-kai, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, acknowledged on Tuesday that the relaxed rules were “mainly intended for business trips, family visitors and residents returning from Hong Kong”.
A step forward, still behind the times
Joseph Armas, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said lifting hotel quarantines was “a step forward”.
But to really develop the city’s tourism and hospitality sector, Armas said the remaining regulations need to be removed.
Japan is the latest example of a regulation-laden reopening strategy that has attracted fewer tourists than expected.
Japan announced on Thursday that travelers will be allowed to travel freely within the country from October. 11, ends it is said that there are restrictions that confuse travelers the most. Searches for flights to Japan almost doubled that day, according to Expedia.
Regina Ip, a member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, said the “next logical step” for Hong Kong is to lift the three-day medical surveillance that prohibits travelers from eating in restaurants.
Ip said he expected further easing of measures next month after Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee’s policy speech in October. 19.
A prelude to China’s reopening?
The easing of Covid-19 measures in Hong Kong has raised hopes among Chinese residents that they will soon see relaxed rules.
China’s borders have been closed since March 2020 as the pandemic has spread globally.
Currently, travelers entering the country must be quarantined in a centralized facility, such as a hotel. seven daysthree extra days at home before going out.
“Many businesses and residents in Hong Kong rely on the mainland and these trips are very important to their business,” Armas told CNBC’s “Squawkbox Asia” on Monday.
Goldman Sachs chief Asia-Pacific economist Andrew Tilton said China is unlikely to see a “significant easing” of Covid measures until next spring, although there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
He said the elderly in China still needed “a series of booster shots” and that the government would want to ensure there was enough medicine in case there was another wave of Covid after the country reopened.
“China is a big country. We are only one city… I am not sure if our approach will be applied to the whole country,” Ip said.
There may be good news for residents in China.
After nearly three years, Macau is set to reopen its borders to travelers from China in the coming weeks, Reuters reported.
Matthew Ossolinski, chairman of Ossolinski Holdings, said the world’s biggest gambling hub has been hit hard by China’s zero-Covid policy because its “main stream of customers” comes from the mainland. When the borders between China and Macau reopen, “it will be interesting to see if there is a surge or a trickle, but there is a huge amount of reduced demand,” he said.
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