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Coronavirus: Hong Kong set to announce on Friday end to mandatory hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 9/23/2022 Rachel Yeo
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Hong Kong is set to announce an end to mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals, requiring people flying in to only monitor themselves for potential Covid-19 infections.

Details of the new arrangement are expected to be revealed on Friday afternoon.

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The long-awaited lifting of quarantine signals an end to one of the world’s toughest anti-pandemic regimes, which has been in force for more than two years to shut out the coronavirus.

Health experts had earlier suggested the policy change if the city’s daily caseloads – which have dropped from a high of more than 10,000 earlier this month to over 5,000 this week – stabilised, urging authorities to open up before a possible winter surge.

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Why cutting quarantine isn’t enough to revive Hong Kong’s economy

Officials have also faced mounting pressure from the business sector, which has joined the chorus of calls for the city to open up, citing rival hubs such as Singapore and other countries worldwide that have resumed quarantine-free travel.

In recent weeks, some major sports events have been cancelled or moved elsewhere in light of the strict pandemic measures, with organisers accusing the government of failing to make timely decisions to allow for proper preparations.

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Beijing backs Hong Kong leader’s changes to Covid-19 travel rules

The current “3+4” arrangement for incoming travellers was eased from a week-long hotel isolation requirement on August 12. Arrivals have to quarantine in a designated hotel for three days and spend another four under home medical surveillance, with their movement citywide limited.

Those found to be infected with Covid-19 upon landing in Hong Kong are given a red health code, while a yellow version is issued to people under home medical surveillance, barring them from most premises, including restaurants and bars.

‘Japan expects surge in Hong Kong tourists if city scraps hotel quarantine’

Both Japan and Taiwan announced the easing of their immigration restrictions on Thursday.

The Japanese government said that from October 11, the country would welcome foreign solo travellers and lift the cap on daily inbound arrivals.

Taiwan also plans to remove its mandatory three-day quarantine and welcome all visitors by October 13 at the earliest.

The first phase of the self-ruled island’s plan will commence on September 29 – including raising the weekly cap on visitors from the current 50,000 to 60,000, and cancelling polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at the airport. The date for the second stage will be announced two weeks after a review of the initial reopening.

More to follow ...

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung

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