Hong Kong May Cut Hotel Quarantine in August

After being let out early, returning residents will need to spend two or three days self-isolating at home.

A Star Ferry vessel crosses Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. (Photo: Jeremy Zero/Unsplash)

With two international events in Hong Kong tentatively scheduled for November — namely the long-delayed Rugby Sevens tournament and a summit of global bankers hosted by the city’s monetary authority — authorities are taking steps toward a gradual resumption of quarantine-free travel.

Senior officials have signaled a likely reduction in mandatory hotel quarantine once Hong Kong launches health codes akin to those used across the border in Mainland China. Red will denote those who test positive for Covid, while yellow applies to all international arrivals undergoing home quarantine. Anyone with a red or yellow status will be barred from entering high-risk premises like hospitals, aged care homes, and restaurants.

Quoting insider sources, three local news outlets say the government is now looking at cutting the quarantine period from seven days to five days in a hotel and two at home, or four days spent at a hotel followed by three in home isolation. In practice, the move will lower the cost of quarantine (and potentially free up more rooms) for returning residents, but it will make little difference to prospective tourists or business travelers with no home address in the city. A decision on the new quarantine rules is expected within the next week or two at the earliest.

Minor changes to Hong Kong’s entry procedures are being rolled out this week. From tomorrow, all incoming travelers will need to fill out a more comprehensive health declaration form online before boarding their flight. Required details include proof of Covid-19 vaccination and a reference number for their quarantine hotel booking. Passengers who complete the form will receive a QR code, valid for 96 hours, to be presented at airport check-in.

A dedicated taxi service from Hong Kong airport began on Monday to bring arrivals to their quarantine hotels, with 100 available vehicles operating from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. each day. Authorities have also stepped up testing on those in self-isolation: additional PCR test are required on days three and five, and rapid antigen test results must be photographed and uploaded to a health department website on a daily basis.

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