Hong Kong Ends Mandatory On-Arrival Testing

The government is also rolling back all social distancing measures, but masks will still be required by law.

Photo: Cheung Yin/Unsplash

Authorities in Hong Kong are scrapping on-arrival testing for all travelers from tomorrow, December 29, in favor of a recommended five-day period of self-monitoring (with voluntary rapid antigen tests done daily). The territory’s Chief Executive John Lee announced the change at a Wednesday afternoon press conference, as his administration seeks to bring local Covid rules in line with those of Mainland China. International arrivals must have proof of a negative result from a rapid antigen test no more than 24 hours prior to departure, or a PCR test taken within 48 hours before boarding. The online health declaration form is no longer mandatory for incoming travelers.

Starting on Thursday, no isolation will be necessary for close contacts and the Vaccine Pass, necessary for entering “high-risk” venues like restaurants, will be abolished. Positive cases, however, are still required to self-isolate. The Hong Kong government is also ending all social distancing measures, including group gathering bans of 12 people in public, though mask mandates will remain to reduce the risk of catching respiratory infections during the winter flu season. Despite the current surge in Covid cases and deaths, Lee said restrictions could now be relaxed given high vaccination rates and the fact that 2.5 million of the city’s 7.5 million residents have been previously infected.

In related news, the South China Morning Post reports that January 10 has been set as a tentative reopening date for the border with Mainland China. Insider sources say there will be no quota for the number of Hong Kong residents who can cross over, but travelers coming in from the Mainland must take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival, and will initially be limited to those with business visas or family members in the city.

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