Hong Kong Cuts Hotel Quarantine to Three Days

The rule will come into effect on August 12, alongside a newly launched system of health codes.

Hong Kong’s Central district after dark. (Photo: IMYT/Unsplash)

After weeks of hinting that quarantine days in designated hotels would be reduced for overseas arrivals, the Hong Kong government has finally confirmed the good news. At a Monday press conference, Chief Executive John Lee said the current requirement of seven days would be slashed to three days from this Friday. Incoming travelers will be allowed to end self-isolation on the morning of the fourth day should they test negative through two PCR tests. This will then be followed by four days of “medical surveillance” at home. Authorities are also rolling out red, yellow, and blue health codes: red for those who test positive, yellow for incoming travelers who have just ended quarantine, and blue for the general population.

During the medical surveillance period, visitors and returning residents will be allowed to shop for groceries, take public transport, visit malls, and go to schools and workplaces after being cleared through a daily rapid antigen test. However, having a yellow health code bars them from high-risk places such as restaurants, bars, beauty salons, and gyms. Additional PCR tests are mandatory on the sixth and ninth days after arrival, and travelers must continue daily rapid tests until day 10.

Notably, the new quarantine period is shorter than the four or five days of self-isolation mooted in the past. Hong Kong’s health secretary Lo Chung-mau said experts analyzed data from a recent four-week period and determined that a three-day hotel quarantine would screen out as much as 80 percent of all imported cases. Lee added the risk of infection after three days’ self-isolation was comparable to that of catching the virus while out in the community.

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