HONG KONG — Hong Kong will reduce the mandatory hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals to three days from a week, the city’s leader said Monday.
A quarantine is required for the southern Chinese city, as well as mainland China to prevent travelers from spreading COVID-19 among the population. The policy taking effect Friday will be Hong Kong’s shortest quarantine for arrivals since the pandemic began.
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John Lee, the leader of Hong Kong, said that arriving travellers must be quarantined for three days at a hotel and then they will have to undergo four days medical surveillance. During this time their movement can be limited by a code system.
Lee stated that only three days of quarantine were necessary after scientific data and evidence had been collected to reduce risk factors.
“We also have to balance the risks against the economic activities and the social lives of (people in) Hong Kong,” Lee said.
“(The data) gives us the indication that the risk factor of people who have finished three days quarantine in a designated hotel … is actually no more than the risk level of transmission in society,” he said.
Even though there has been an increase in infections per day, COVID-19 policies have not changed. City health officials warned that this could lead to an additional 8,000 cases in the next few weeks.
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While they are under quarantine, all travelers must be tested regularly for COVID-19. Infected persons will need to remain isolated.
Those who test negative can use public transit and enter malls and markets, but they can’t enter bars and amusement parks or visit elderly homes, schools and certain medical facilities.
For most of the pandemic, Hong Kong has imposed some of the world’s strictest COVID-19 entry restrictions. At one point, Hong Kong required up to 21 days of compulsory hotel quarantine for travelers and a “circuit breaker” mechanism that would ban flights from certain airlines into the city if they import too many COVID-19 cases.
These measures have devastated the city’s tourism industry and disrupted business travel in a city known for being an international financial center and a business hub.
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Hundreds of thousands have fled Hong Kong since the outbreak of the pandemic. Many corporations have moved to Singapore and other countries where there is no quarantine.
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