Refuse Banks' Call To Ease COVID Restrictions

HK Gov’t Refuse Banks’ Call To Ease COVID Restrictions

HONG KONG – Authorities in the Chinese territory have rejected the advice of multinational banks to scrap its “zero infection” strategy on COVID-19, as financial firms believe that maintaining such strategy would negatively impact Hong Kong’s status as a global financial hub, reported Bloomberg on Tuesday noon (26 October, SGT).

Notably, Hong Kong’s top bank lobbying group, Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA), has been urging the local government to relax its strict quarantine rules and set a clearer schedule for a return to normalcy.

Over the weekend, the industry body released its most public warning yet regarding Hong Kong’s zero infection strategy. In a letter to Financial Secretary Paul Chan, ASIFMA said that the government’s stringent quarantine measures are putting at risk Hong Kong’s economic recovery as well as its status as a top commercial hub.

As a matter of fact, a recent poll conducted by the lobbying group discovered that nearly 50 percent of multinational banks & asset managers operating in the city are now looking to relocate employees and functions out of Hong Kong.

This is because Hong Kong has some of the world’s most stringent quarantine rules. For instance, inbound travellers are required to quarantine for up to 3 weeks. In comparison, other financial hubs like New York, London, and Singapore are beginning to return to normalcy by relaxing travel rules while seeking to live with COVID-19.

According to a representative from the local government, Hong Kong’s top priority remains resuming travel to the Chinese mainland. The spokesperson also pointed out that other countries that have adjusted their strategies to live with COVID have recorded more cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

“The government will continue to strive to reach ‘zero infection’ and sustain the various stringent and necessary anti-epidemic measures,” added the spokesperson in a statement released by Hong Kong’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau.

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