Sep 23, 2022 - World

Hong Kong to end mandatory quarantine for travelers

Travelers arrive at Hong Kong International Airport
Travelers arrive at Hong Kong International Airport on Friday, on the same day the city announced that it will end mandatory hotel quarantine. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong will end mandatory COVID-19 hotel quarantine for travelers next Monday, the city's leader said on Friday.

Why it matters: Hong Kong adopted some of the most stringent pandemic rules, which pummeled the economy and fueled discontent with its residents.

  • The city recorded the largest population drop in the 12-month period ending in June.
  • Hong Kong had largely followed Beijing's strict "zero-COVID" policy for most of the pandemic.

What they're saying: "We hope to reduce the inconvenience for arriving passengers. We don’t want to move backwards," John Lee, Hong Kong's chief executive, said during a news conference, according to the Washington Post.

  • A government notice posted on Friday emphasized that the goal is to "reduce the inconvenience of quarantine requirements for visitors while putting the pandemic under control, and to restore Hong Kong's connections with the rest of the world."

Details: Starting next week, travelers will be able to receive PCR tests on arrival, then perform medical monitoring either at home or in hotels for three days, the notice said.

  • During this time, they may not enter "high-risk areas" with group activities, but they are free to move around the city, such as taking public transportation and grocery shopping. After three days, travelers will need to continue self-monitoring for an additional four days.

The big picture: Hong Kong's decision follows other major places in Asia that have recently announced the easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions.

  • Taiwan announced on Thursday that it plans to scrap quarantine requirements by mid-October at the latest.
  • Separately on Thursday, Japan announced that it will ease travel restrictions on Oct.11, by allowing individual travelers to visit again and reinstating visa waivers for visitors from dozens of countries.
  • Mainland China, however, continues to enforce its "zero COVID" policy.
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