Hong Kong May End Hotel Quarantine in November

A final decision has not been made, though the territory’s leader John Lee is said to be supportive of the plan.

Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong Island skyline at dusk. (Photo: Nikada/iStock)

One of the last major cities in the world to quarantine vaccinated arrivals has set out a tentative timeframe for scrapping its border restrictions. Authorities are targeting an end to mandatory self-isolation in hotels ahead of two major events this November: the annual Hong Kong Rugby Sevens and a global banking conference organized by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Bloomberg reports that sources close to the matter said Chief Executive John Lee and other top officials are in favor of bringing down the requirement to zero days, though the territory’s health secretary remains opposed to the idea, especially as cases surge to near 10,000 daily infections. The more likely outcome is that Hong Kong will reopen to the rest of the world before resuming quarantine-free travel with Mainland China, where strict lockdowns are still being practiced. According to Bloomberg, the final decision is dependent on three factors: the number of cases, the fatality rate, and public opinion.

The ongoing quarantine rules have left organizers of other international events with little choice but to drop their plans. Yesterday, the Badminton World Federation said the Hong Kong Open, due to take place from November 8–13, would be cancelled for the third year running, as the local badminton association was unable to secure special exemptions for players and other participants.

Hong Kong has so far maintained an uncomfortable balancing act between Mainland China’s zero-tolerance policy and the approach taken in much of the outside world; two and a half years of Covid isolation has damaged the city’s status as an international business and aviation hub, and caused an exodus of foreign talent. At the same time, Lee has been holding talks with counterparts in neighboring Guangdong province on increasing the flow of people between Hong Kong and Shenzhen with a proposed “reverse quarantine” program that would see travelers self-isolate in Hong Kong before entering the mainland.

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