When secondary school students eventually have to study the COVID-19 pandemic as part of their history curriculum, China, and by extension, Hong Kong, will most definitely come up as one of the case studies.
Because there is no stricter policy against COVID-19 than the Chinese “Zero COVID-19” strategy.
Cities went on lockdown for weeks on end, regardless of the economic impact. Even as more and more countries have eased their pandemic-related restrictions, China remains unrelenting about its stance.
Hong Kong Eases Travel Restrictions
Hence, it comes as quite a surprise when Hong Kong announced that it would be scrapping its mandatory hotel quarantine for international arrivals on Friday (23 Sep).
According to the AFP, the city leader said that the three-day hotel quarantine will be reduced to zero for those coming to Hong Kong from overseas, starting from Monday (26 Sep).
However, the testing will still be in place:
- Travellers need to take an antigen rapid test (ART) 48 hours prior to their departure, and show a negative result.
- Upon arrival, travellers will be subject to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Hong Kong will also be adopting a “0+3” policy, whereby travellers will not be allowed to enter restaurants and bars for the first three days.
All international arrivals are allowed to return to their own home or their choice of accommodation, but they will have self-monitor for three days.
They can go to work or school too.
Please do not confuse this with Taiwan’s “0+7” policy though, where travellers are only expected to self-monitor their health for seven days after their arrival.
Things are far harsher in the mainland and Hong Kong.
A Breath Of Relief
For residents and businesses in Hong Kong, this is good news as they are incredibly late in terms of rejoining the rest of the world in resuming unimpeded travelling and simply living with coronavirus.
As a matter of fact, Hong Kong has fallen to the fourth place in the 32nd edition of the semi-annual Global Financial Centres Index, while Singapore has risen to the third place from the sixth.
The rigid measures to control the pandemic have seriously weighed on the local economy.
That being said, it would leave mainland China as the sole major economy that is still subject to lengthy quarantine procedures for international travels.
China is probably not far behind though, as the Beijing government had given Hong Kong its blessing to reopen to the world and revitalise its competitiveness in the global market.
Social Distancing and Safety Measures
Although international travellers can finally go to Hong Kong without having to factor in the three-day mandatory quarantine, the mask mandate and social distancing measures are still firmly in place in Hong Kong.
Earlier this Tuesday (20 Sep), the Hong Kong government stated that its social distancing measures will continue until 5 October.
It will last for another 14-day cycle before reviewing it again.
It added that the pandemic situation in Hong Kong has “stabilised” and has begun to show a “downward trend”.
But it is not the time to fully let up; Hong Kong is using this opportunity to further control the epidemic.
Hong Kong residents are also expected to mask in vehicles, at certain places, and at public gatherings with more than four people.
Lastly, individuals above the age of 12 need to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, malls, supermarkets, and sports facilities.
To anyone travelling to Hong Kong, just assume it is still 2021 and you will be fine.
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