Hong Kong is finally ending mandatory hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals after more than two years, marking the lifting of one of the world’s toughest pandemic-control regimes.
Under the new regulations, from 26 September incoming travellers will only be required to go through three days of home medical surveillance, with their movement citywide limited, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee announced today.
The government has come under immense pressure from medical experts and the business community to open up to avoid further losing Hong Kong’s competitive edge to rivals. The announcement comes a day after Japan and Taiwan signalled the easing of their immigration restrictions.
Tourists can stay in any hotel during the three-day medical surveillance period, and no designated transport is required.
Under new “test-and-go” measures, arrivals will not have to wait for their PCR tests at the airport, unlike the current “test-and-hold” practice.
Visitors will be given an amber code on the government’s risk-exposure app “Leave Home Safe” upon their arrival and may go out during their three-day surveillance.
But they will be subject to the amber code restrictions, which prevents them from entering restaurants and bars. They will be given a blue code, which will lift the restrictions, on the fourth day after their arrival if their PCR test a day before is negative.
Residents who are not fully vaccinated will be allowed to fly back to Hong Kong, while the cap on travellers from mainland China and Macao will be lifted.
To make it easier for overseas travellers arriving in the city, they will be allowed to take a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of departure, replacing the previous requirement of a nucleic acid test taken 48 hours before boarding.