Hong Kong wants to relax Covid-19 curbs for travellers: City’s leader

HONG KONG – Hong Kong wants to relax the Covid-19 mitigation measures that have made travel to and from the city difficult for nearly three years, Chief Executive John Lee said Tuesday.

The number of infections in the Asian financial hub have fallen to about 6,000 a day, creating room for the city to reconsider steps like requiring travellers to stay in hotel quarantine, Mr Lee told reporters at a weekly briefing.

Hotel quarantine will be replaced with seven days of home health monitoring, the South China Morning Post reported, though it said the move won’t be announced until all the details have been determined.

The moves appear to have been blessed by leaders in mainland China.

The central government will support Hong Kong’s efforts to have close, extensive contact with others on the mainland and the rest of the world, said Mr Huang Liuquan, from China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. 

Mr Huang, speaking at a separate briefing from Mr Lee, said that China sees no problem with the city adjusting its Covid-19 rules.

Residents have been anticipating a reduction in the travel curbs, including hotel quarantine requirements and pre-flight PCR testing, as a series of high profile international events are slated to occur starting at the end of October.

Visitors that the city’s leaders hope will attend have said they wouldn’t come if existing restrictions were too harsh.

“Different departments are actively studying, as the confirmed cases are falling, what room it gives us to adjust quarantine arrangement for people arriving at the airport to Hong Kong,”Mr Lee said.

“We will make a decision soon and announce to the public.”

Mr Lee has taken a number of steps to make travel less of a high-stakes gamble since being sworn into office on July 1.’

He ended the flight bans that could unpredictably derail travel, slashed hotel quarantine stays, announced a plan to cease ordering people into government-run isolation facilities and stopped taking the temperatures of transit passengers as they passed through the city’s airport.

The city will do its best not to roll back any of those moves, Mr Lee said, acknowledging how important it is for Hong Kong to remain competitive.

“We want to be connected with the different places in the world,” Mr Lee said. “We would like to have an orderly opening up. BLOOMBERG