Hong Kong Partially Relaxes Restrictions on International Arrivals

From November 17, museums, theme parks, and other venues will be reopened to just-landed tourists.

After dark in Mong Kok, a neighborhood of Hong Kong. (Photo: Jimmy Lau/Pixabay)

In a bid to give Hong Kong’s struggling tourism industry a much-needed boost, government officials have agreed to loosen coronavirus rules for visitors. Fully vaccinated international arrivals who are still undergoing their initial three days of medical surveillance will be able to enter attractions such as museums and theme parks starting next Thursday, provided they keep their masks on and steer clear of dining areas. This means travelers with an amber health code in the LeaveHomeSafe contact-tracing app can visit Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park, or check out the new Yayoi Kusama retrospective at the waterfront M+ Museum in West Kowloon. Also on the list are cinemas, event venues, religious premises, hair salons, and gaming arcades. Shopping malls and department stores are already accessible to those with an amber code, as are healthcare facilities.

But just-landed visitors and returning residents will still be banned from restaurants, bars, and nightclubs until their health code turns blue following a negative result from their day 2 PCR test. The change falls short of a full “0+0” reopening, which would entail the end of the amber code and all entry restrictions. Hong Kong’s mandatory pre-departure and on-arrival testing requirements — and the prospect of seven days of self-isolation in the case of a positive result — is keeping most business and leisure travelers away for now.

Local authorities announced earlier this week that tour groups would be exempt from amber code restrictions from later in the month, though no tentative date has been set. Tourists led by licensed guides will be able to enter designated attractions and restaurants, where they can eat in partitioned areas separated from the rest of the venue by floor-to-ceiling dividers. Since the border with Mainland China is largely shut, Hong Kong is hoping to draw more tourists from Southeast Asia. Critics are questioning why individual travelers are being treated as more of a public health risk compared to those visiting the city in large groups.

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