Hong Kong may be on course to get rid of all centralized quarantine and pre-flight COVID-19 testing for those arriving from overseas.
Hong Kong leader John Lee said yesterday, Monday, September 19, that the Special Administrative Region government aims to make an announcement soon on its hotel quarantine policy.
"We know exactly where we should be heading and want to be consistent as we move in that direction," Lee told reporters. "We would like to have an orderly opening-up... because we don't want to have chaos or confusion in the process."
Oriental Daily News (昔日－東方日報) – a Hong Kong-based media outlet – cited unnamed sources suggesting the government may implement the new measures before November.
Under the new measures, those entering from overseas will likely have to undergo a rapid COVID test upon arrival, and undergo seven days of home quarantine or some form of ‘health monitoring’ – the latter described by Oriental Daily News as the ‘0+7’ policy.
Bloomberg reports that the measures come before “a raft of major international events designed to trumpet Hong Kong’s revival.”
Said events include the city’s financial summit and the Rugby Sevens – both of which are scheduled for November of this year, and hope to attract people from overseas.
Along with the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong continues to implement a ‘zero-COVID’ policy, seeking to eliminate the spread of the virus rather than ‘live with it.’
However, a number of Hong Kong’s strict anti-epidemic measures for overseas arrivals have been relaxed in recent weeks and months.
Since August 12, the city has implemented the ‘3+4’ policy (three days in a centralized quarantine facility plus four days of 'health monitoring' at home), after having reduced time in centralized quarantine from seven days.
Furthermore, Hong Kong newspaper The Star reported on September 14 that those who test positive for COVID-19 on arrival in Hong Kong can remain in their designated quarantine hotels, rather than be transferred to an isolation hotel or a community facility such as Penny’s Bay quarantine facility.
With Hong Kong’s easing of border restrictions, many of those returning to the Chinese mainland from overseas have opted to do so via the Special Administrative Region.
That’s learned of a WeChat group designated specifically for sharing information on this topic.
One user recently posted a screenshot in the group showing that their booking had been canceled because the hotel would “no longer operate as a Designated Quarantine Hotel starting from October 15, 2022.”
Image via WeChat
A possible sign that a significant policy change is imminent, though we stress that nothing has been officially announced yet.
[Cover image via Pixabay]