Hong Kong will ditch its strict hotel quarantine policy for international travelers, the government announced on Friday, marking the end of one of the world’s toughest pandemic containment regimes as the city distances itself from the stringent “zero Covid” policies of mainland China and attempts to restore its status as a global financial hub.
Travelers arriving in Hong Kong will no longer be required to quarantine in a hotel from Monday, the city’s chief executive John Lee said on Friday.
Rules requiring travelers to show a negative PCR Covid test before boarding a flight to the city will also be eased, Lee said, though people will still need to show a negative rapid test before departing.
Travelers will also have to take a PCR test upon their arrival and will be required to self-monitor for infection for three days.
Travelers will continue to be subject to testing, monitoring and restrictions during these three days, Lee said, and will be prohibited from entering bars and restaurants.
Under existing policies, all international arrivals to Hong Kong have to spend three days in hotel quarantine—which they pay for—followed by four days of self-monitoring.
The decision to end hotel quarantine for arrivals has been hotly anticipated in Hong Kong and follows concerted lobbying efforts from local and international business. Hong Kong’s rules, which aligned with mainland China’s strict “zero Covid” rules and at one point required people to spend as much as three weeks in self-funded hotel quarantine, have been some of the world’s strictest pandemic control measures. They have proven controversial and remained in place long after many countries scrapped restrictions entirely, prompting a mass exodus of people and business. Many warned the restrictions, particularly the strict border controls, hindered the city’s economic recovery and threatened its status as a global financial center.