Hong Kong Tightens Quarantine Requirements for 16 Countries

France, Malaysia, and the United States are among more than a dozen nations that will soon be reclassified from medium to high risk.

Apartment blocks at the foot of Lion Rock in Kowloon, Hong Kong. (Photo: Ken Cheung/Unsplash)

Even though it already has some of the strictest coronavirus entry rules in the world, Hong Kong is taking extra steps to beef up its Covid-elimination strategy. Earlier today, the territory’s government announced that boarding, entry, and quarantine requirements would be tightened for arrivals from 16 countries, starting from midnight on August 20.

A spokesperson said the decision was made “after considering a basket of factors,” including the spread of the Delta variant in regions with higher inoculation rates. “Despite large-scale vaccination programs,” the government official added, “many places are also experiencing a resurgence of the virus, which poses enormous challenges to our local anti-epidemic efforts.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, the new restrictions will apply to arrivals from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. A trio of Middle Eastern nations — Iran, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates — are also subject to the tighter entry rules, as are five countries in Europe, namely France, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. Tanzania and the United States make up the final two entries on the list.

All 15 of the aforementioned countries are currently classified as medium-risk, and will be moved into the high-risk category on Friday. The updated requirements means that only vaccinated Hong Kong residents returning from these places will be allowed to board flights for the city; they must then spend 21 days in hotel quarantine after testing negative for the virus on arrival.

Meanwhile, Australia will be upgraded from the low-risk to medium-risk group. Fully vaccinated non-Hong Kong residents from Down Under can still enter the territory from August 20, but will face a quarantine period of 14 nights by default. If a blood test conducted within the previous three months can prove that the traveler has Covid-19 antibodies, the mandatory self-isolation period will be halved to seven nights.

Further details of the new arrangements can be found here.

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