Hong Kong will lift strict hotel quarantines for incoming tourists that have eroded the city’s status as a financial hub, affected its economy and caused an outpouring of migrants. people.
The policy, which at one point required visitors and residents to be quarantined in a hotel for three weeks, has been in place for 2.5 years, setting the city apart from the rest of the world and from the rest of the world. Chinese mainland.
John Lee, the city’s chief executive, said that the quarantine will be lifted from Monday, but visitors will have to check and monitor for three days after landing.
“We have to allow the maximum room to allow connectivity to the world so that we have economic incentive and reduce inconvenience for incoming visitors,” Lee said on Friday.
Hong Kong was forced to implement a version of Beijing’s stifling zero-Covid-19 policy, though it escaped the strict lockdowns that have crippled China’s megacities.
But after a devastating wave of the Omicron variant ripped through the city and a change of leadership, the authorities slowly loosen restrictions. Currently, visitors must stay in a hotel for three days.
Announcement next Friday intense lobbying from both the international and local business community.
A senior executive of a Hong Kong-listed developer said: “The business is facing a lot of difficulties because it cannot travel. “Economic sentiment is generally very bad and needs a major resurgence.”
The policy change also comes ahead of a major financial forum and the return of the Rugby Sevens tournament in early November. City leaders hope the events will lure business back into the territory. China.
Beijing appeared to ask the Hong Kong government to approve the easing of border measures on Tuesday. Huang Liuquan, deputy head of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said it would be “understandable” if officials eased restrictions.
Visitors will no longer have to take the PCR test 48 hours before arrival in Hong Kong and can self-monitor in their hotel or at home. But they will still be barred from entering restaurants and bars during that time.
Despite the change, additional checks on arrivals and a three-day follow-up could still slow the return of tourists and business people.
An investment banker who temporarily left Hong Kong for Germany before returning in August said the new deal, now known as “zero plus three”, “remains unattractive to people who don’t live in the country”. this”.
“[The] The problem is still China. So a lot of business in Hong Kong is related to China,” he said.
This month, Chinese officials agreed to allow travelers to undergo mandatory quarantine in Hong Kong’s quarantine facilities before arriving on the mainland. But other measures to facilitate cross-border travel have yet to be announced.
Last month, Hong Kong was forced to cut its growth forecast for 2022 to between minus 0.5% and 0.5% after gross domestic product. contract 3.9 and 1.4%, respectively in the first and second quarters.
The city has recorded a total of 1.7 million cases and 9,900 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Its Covid curbs have strengthen Singapore’s position as a regional hub, as major corporations and financial firms move staff and operations from Hong Kong to the city-state.
Many Hong Kongers are also spooked by Beijing’s imposition of sweeping national security laws in 2020 aimed at controlling civil society. The city of 7.3 million has suffered a net loss of more than 120,000 residents this year.