Hong Kong to Let in Fully Vaccinated Returnees from Highest-Risk Countries

But travelers from Indonesia and the Philippines will remain banned as locally issued inoculation records are not yet recognized.

Photo: Timon Studler/Unsplash

There’s some good news for Hong Kongers now stranded in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The South China Morning Post has just reported that fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents and workers will be allowed to return from places deemed by local health authorities as “extremely high-risk,” circumventing restrictions that ban anyone with a travel history to these areas within the past 21 days. Although it hasn’t been officially announced by the government, this new rule is expected to take effect as soon as next week.

Travelers must hold vaccination records issued either by Hong Kong, Mainland China, or countries recognized by the WHO as having “stringent regulatory authorities,” leaving most “extremely high-risk” places out of the arrangement except for Ireland and the U.K. An exemption for unvaccinated children aged 18 or younger stranded in Britain will be made on compassionate grounds, as under-18s are not yet eligible to receive the jabs via the U.K.’s vaccine rollout. These students will be able to join their families back home for the summer holidays while giving them the opportunity to be vaccinated while in Hong Kong.

It is not yet known whether Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific will operate repatriation flights from London as it did several months ago. Eligible travelers must show proof of a negative coronavirus test result before departure, and spend 21 days in hotel quarantine upon arrival, with four PCR tests conducted during the self-isolation period. A weeklong period of self-monitoring will follow, and a final test will be mandatory on the 26th day as an extra precaution.

Hong Kong health authorities are simplifying rules for arrivals by merging the categories for extremely high-risk countries (A1) and very high-risk places (A2) into one group. Similarly, high-risk (Group B) and medium-risk (Group C) will soon become one medium-risk category. Group A1 now consists of eight countries, namely Brazil, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, and the U.K., with a blanket ban on incoming passenger flights from these places. The only country in Group A2 is Ireland, but Russia is due to be added tomorrow in light of its latest coronavirus surge.

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