Hong Kong’s government said on Monday it would reduce the COVID-19 hotel quarantine period for all arrivals to three days from seven, taking another step in the slow easing of tough pandemic rules.
The measures will be effective from Friday, city leader John Lee told a news conference.
Arrivals will be required to self-monitor for four more days, during which they will be banned from entering premises such as restaurants and bars.
“We need to strike a balance between people’s livelihoods and Hong Kong’s competitiveness to give the community maximum momentum and economic vitality,” Lee said.
People in quarantine will be given a red code on a government-mandated app. This will change to a code yellow once they leave quarantine, which means they cannot enter crowded premises.
The quarantine used to last up to three weeks. Currently, all arrivals must spend at least a week in hotel quarantine and comply with frequent testing orders, provide fecal samples for babies and complete several forms.
Only a certain number of hotels are available for quarantine.
Rooms are expensive and are usually booked months in advance. Payment is made in advance and refunds are not permitted except in the event of a change in government policy or flight cancellation.
Hong Kong’s competitiveness has been hit by pandemic measures, business executives said, hoping Lee, the city’s ruler since July 1, would scrap quarantine rules.
The city’s border has been almost completely sealed off since 2020, with international arrivals facing rigorous quarantine and testing protocols. It is one of the last places in the world that still imposes a quarantine on arrivals.
Lee pledged to reconnect Hong Kong with the mainland and the rest of the world.
The popular Hong Kong International Rugby 7s event will take place from November 4-6 for the first time in more than three years. It was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic measures.