Hong Kong Tightens Quarantine Rules

Starting tomorrow, all returning travelers except for those coming from Mainland China must self-isolate for two weeks in a hotel.

Dusk falls over the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island. (Photo: danielvfung/iStock)

The Hong Kong government is set to expand the scope of coronavirus restrictions previously in place for arrivals from 15 high-risk countries, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United States, and the United Kingdom. From Friday, November 13, Hong Kong residents flying into the city from anywhere outside Mainland China will no longer have the option to quarantine at home. Most returnees must now face the prospect of a 14-day self-isolation period at a hotel of their choice, with the accommodation costs and other expenses paid out of their own pocket.

Hong Kong’s Health Secretary Sophia Chan announced the updated regulation at a press conference yesterday, when she explained that it was necessary to stop returning travelers from infecting members of the same household during their period of home quarantine. Chan added she was “worried about the global situation whereby over 50 million people [have] now been confirmed [with the virus],” saying, “that’s why we’re tightening our border control measures.”

Singapore will get its much-awaited bilateral travel bubble with Hong Kong on November 22; travelers are eligible to skip mandatory quarantine after being tested in the Lion City before departure and a second PCR test on arrival at Hong Kong International Airport.

November 23 will then mark the launch of the Return2HK scheme, a one-way system aimed at Hong Kongers coming back from Guangdong province and Macau. To be exempt from quarantine, returnees must prove they are free of Covid-19 through a nucleic acid test taken within three days of travel (at recognized medical facilities in Guangdong or Macau) and register online in advance with the Hong Kong government. Return2HK will let in a total of 5,000 people per day via the two border crossings between Hong Kong and Mainland China that have remained open throughout the pandemic: the Shenzhen Bay Bridge and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

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