Hong Kong lifts flight ban and cuts quarantine to ‘re-launch’ economy

At a press conference on Monday, CEO Carrie Lam said that residents Of nine countries, including India, the United Kingdom and the United States, they will be allowed to return home starting April 1. The other countries are Australia, Canada, France, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Only Hong Kong residents who have been vaccinated will be eligible to return from those nine countries. It was not immediately clear what the changes would mean for non-residents arriving from any country outside mainland China.

Flights from the nine countries were banned earlier this year, as the Omicron model was spreading across the world. Lam said the ban is no longer necessary because the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong is no longer better than it is in other countries.

The city in southern China, once the undisputed center of trade in Asia, is currently experiencing turmoil. Fifth wave of injuries, leading to more deaths, an increased burden on the health care system, a brain drain, and a massive blow to the economy. Despite this, the government has remained largely committed to its “zero Covid” policy, maintaining strict social distancing requirements and forcing many businesses to temporarily close.

Lam also said that as of next month, he has vaccinated Hong Kong residents returning from All countries will be required to quarantine hotels for seven days, down from 14.

She added that travelers will be allowed to leave the hotel quarantine if they test negative for the virus on the fifth day, followed by negative tests on the sixth and seventh days. However, they will still be required to complete another seven days of self-monitoring.

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Hong Kong’s quarantine restrictions have gained notoriety in the international business community. Previously, the requirement for most incoming travelers was to self-isolate in hotel rooms for three weeks, making it one of the longest quarantines in the world.

Lam confessed last week The need to improve the city’s standing in global business, arguing that it was time for the government to review border controls.

“I have a strong feeling that people’s tolerance is fading away. I have a very good feeling [feeling] “Some of our financial institutions are losing patience with this kind of isolated situation for Hong Kong, as Hong Kong is an international financial centre,” she said at a press conference.

“We have to prepare for the resumption of our economy,” she said on Monday.

However, this issue has already led to a massive exodus.

Immigration data showed, last month, that more than 94,000 people had left the city, while only about 23,000 came. In the first half of March, more than 50,000 people left, while about 7,000 entered.

According to the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, outflow affects businesses across the economy.

In a statement earlier this month, Chairman Peter Wong said the city was “facing a mass exodus of educated workers on a scale not seen since the early 1990s.”

On Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said it welcomed the lifting of restrictions, calling it an “important step towards Hong Kong’s recovery from the epidemic.”

“The American Chamber of Commerce commends the government for listening to the concerns of the business community, both domestically and internationally, by articulating a framework for a return to normalcy,” Joseph Armas, chairman of the group’s board of directors, told CNN Business.

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“However, we hope that the government can rebuild the trust in society that has led to the exodus of expatriates and local talent by providing clear and consistent communication on its policies.”

– Lizzie Yee contributed to this report.

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