Hong Kong to end controversial hotel quarantine policy

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Hong Kong’s government says that from Monday people arriving in Hong Kong will no longer have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine.

Travelers will also no longer have to show a negative Covid test before boarding a plane to Hong Kong.

Instead, they will monitor themselves for possible infection for three days.

The news sparked a rush for flight tickets to Hong Kong, with the Cathay Pacific website operating a queuing system to book.

The airline said it was adding more than 200 pairs of flights in October to both regional and long-haul destinations.

“While we will continue to add back more flights as quickly as is feasible, it will take time to rebuild our capacity gradually,” a statement said.

Hong Kong has had some of the world’s toughest rules as it follows China’s zero Covid policies.

So its departure from what the mainland is doing is a long-awaited decision. Restrictions on people arriving have been in place for more than two years.

And there are still rules in place for travelers. They cannot enter common areas such as restaurants or shopping malls for the first three days after arrival. They also have to undergo PCR tests on days two, four six.

The prolonged closure of the border has however hit Hong Kong’s economy hard and left the Asian financial center at a disadvantage compared with its rivals in the region such as Singapore.

Singapore on Friday unseated city as Asia’s top financial market in the Global Financial Centres Index.

“Hong Kong has been isolated from the international community for two-and-half years and is suffering from it,” Hao Hong, chief economist of Grow Investment Group said.

“While the end to hotel quarantine is a step forward, rebuilding confidence takes time, especially against the tide of the exodus of talents from Hong Kong.”

“The easing of travel arrangements will re-establish the level playing field in terms of competing with other cities on connectivity,” said Louis Kuijs, chief Asia Pacific economist of S&P Global Ratings.

Agencies

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