HK Gov’t Hopes To Scrap Hotel Quarantine By November
HONG KONG – Even though health officials in the Chinese territory are pushing against a plan to further relax COVID-related restrictions due to a resurgence in cases, government officials are targeting to end hotel quarantine by November, reported Bloomberg on Thursday afternoon (1 September, SGT).
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee appears to favour axing hotel quarantine in November, ahead of a summit for multinational bankers and an international rugby competition.
While Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau is opposed to the plan, the momentum is on the side of scrapping quarantine for inbound traveller from outside of mainland China as compared with re-opening the border with mainland China. This is because many government officials view public opinion as favouring Hong Kong’s opening to global travellers in a bid to boost the local economy.
However, a final decision will ultimately depend on the number of daily COVID cases, the number of fatalities and public perception, revealed a source.
When queried, a representative from the Hong Kong government said there was “no disagreement” regarding the approach on hotel quarantine. The authorities would “continue to adjust anti-epidemic measures as appropriate according to the epidemic developments and analyses of scientific data,” he said.
“The government is very conscious of the need of maintaining connectivity with both the mainland and the international world, including reducing inconvenience to travellers,” the spokesman said. On Thursday, the government reiterated that it would take “precise measures to control the epidemic.”
Notably, Hong Kong has steadily relaxed COVID-19 measures since a surge of COVID infections and deaths in March signified a split from mainland China, which continues to impose stringent lockdowns and lengthy quarantines to try and keep cases nearly zero. Still, while Hong Kong has slashed hotel quarantine from 21 days to 3 days, the local government has been unable to fully open up even as rival Asian hubs like Singapore remove all pandemic restrictions.
Other factors are mounting pressure on Hong Kong officials to scrap quarantine. While the Chinese territory has invited the bosses of major Wall Street banks to take part in the November conference organized by the city’s central bank, many bankers are hesitant to get quarantine exemptions to attend, said a source.
Another source explained that bankers don’t want bad publicity, after JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon was criticised in 2021 after receiving such special treatment.