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Hong Kong to reduce quarantine period to 14 days

FILE PHOTO: A ferry boat crosses Victoria Harbour during sunset in Hong Kong, China June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Starting Feb. 5, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, will reduce the quarantine period for new travellers to 14 days from 21 days, following intense lobbying by finance executives and diplomats who claimed the policy was undermining the city’s competitiveness.

The news: Hong Kong has become one of the world’s most isolated cities, with flights dropped by as much as 90 per cent due to strict coronavirus regulations.

  • Residents returning from more than 160 countries who were previously needed to quarantine for 21 days in designated hotels will instead be forced to stay in a hotel for 14 days, followed by seven days of self-monitoring, with more details to be published.
  • Lam didn’t specify which countries will be subject to the new regulations.
FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past empty counters of Cathay Pacific at Hong Kong International Airport following fresh measures to control coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in Hong Kong, China January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

What’s going on: In an internal assessment released on Wednesday, the territory’s European Chamber of Commerce stated that weeks of quarantine requirements were harming desirability and threatening an exodus as companies relocated workers to Singapore and Seoul, South Korea.

  • The relaxation comes as the Chinese government tightens rules to combat the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron form of the coronavirus, trapping thousands of people in a crowded housing complex and government institutions.
  • Schools, parks, gyms, and most venues are closed, and tens of thousands of individuals are required to take coronavirus testing on a regular basis.
  • Lam stated that the city-wide limitations would be extended until February 17, rather than the previous deadline of February 4. Face-to-face sessions will not resume until February 21.
  • The government declared this week that some federal personnel will be able to work from home, and some bank employees will also be given similar instructions.
  • The 164 new illnesses on Thursday set a new high since the pandemic began in 2020. After an epidemic related to the Kwai Chung housing complex, there were instances in the triple digits for the sixth day in a row.

What Lam said: Before authorities can consider changing present policy, Lam says the city must improve its vaccination rate to roughly 90 per cent from the current 70 per cent.

  • “I cannot stand seeing a lot of people dying in my hospitals so we will try our best to raise our vaccination rate.”
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