Hong Kong Drops Travel Testing Requirements, Fully Reopens

Hong Kong Drops Travel Testing Requirements, Fully Reopens

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What a week! Not only is China reopening its borders after being shut off from the rest of the world for nearly three years, but Hong Kong is also making travel easier in a major way.

Hong Kong drops last of its coronavirus travel restrictions

Hong Kong leader John Lee has announced that Hong Kong is fully reopening to the world as of Thursday, December 29, 2022. Specifically, travelers to Hong Kong will no longer be required to do any mandatory coronavirus testing.

Hong Kong is also dropping its vaccine pass concept for entering many venues throughout the city. People who test positive for coronavirus also won’t be required to quarantine. Lastly, social distancing rules are being dropped as well.

Oddly all of those rules are being dropped, though face masks will still be required in public spaces, except when exercising.

At the start of the pandemic, Hong Kong took a zero tolerance approach toward the pandemic, and had some of the strictest travel restrictions in the world. Hong Kong required a quarantine in a facility for travelers, which was in some cases as long as 21 days. That lasted for over two years.

Finally in 2022 we’ve seen Hong Kong ease travel restrictions:

Now, just two weeks after the previous change, we’re seeing the policies further eased.

Hong Kong is fully reopening to travelers, at last!

Is it time to visit Hong Kong again?

Pre-pandemic, Hong Kong was probably my favorite city in the world, and I’ve really been wanting to go back. Up until now, Hong Kong’s attempts to ease travel restrictions haven’t been enough to make me feel comfortable visiting — almost the entire world has reopened without testing requirements, and I also didn’t want to plan a trip, only to see restrictions reimposed.

With Hong Kong now fully reopen, without health monitoring or testing, I absolutely intend to travel there in the coming weeks. It has been too long since I’ve been, and I want to see how one of my favorite places has been, after all that it has been through. On the review front, I also want to check out the St. Regis Hong Kong and Chase Sapphire Lounge Hong Kong.

Now, I do have some concerns about the potential number of travelers coming from mainland China, simply because at this point travelers from China might have among the highest coronavirus infection rates we’ve ever seen, between lack of immunity and ineffective vaccines. But that’s also something a good mask can help with (and masks are still required in Hong Kong, so…).

Just keep in mind that flying to Hong Kong won’t necessarily be that easy. Cathay Pacific is still only operating a small percentage of its pre-pandemic schedule, and isn’t able to ramp up service quickly, given how much of its fleet is parked, how many staff have been laid off, etc.

That’s not to say that getting a flight to Hong Kong will be impossible, but I wouldn’t expect capacity to ramp up as quickly as we’ve seen in some other markets. As a result, airfares will be high, and award availability limited.

This is great news for Cathay Pacific

Bottom line

Hong Kong is finally, fully reopening in the way that many of us have been hoping for a long time now. As of December 29, 2022, Hong Kong will drop health monitoring and testing requirements, meaning you can travel to Hong Kong just as you could pre-pandemic. Well, except you’ll need to wear a mask.

What do you make of Hong Kong’s reopening? Do you plan on visiting?

Conversations (34)
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  1. glenn t Diamond

    Those countries sensibly requiring negative coronavirus tests from China arrivals will immediately apply the same to HK. After all, it is part of China isn't it?
    Definately one step backwards for CathayPacific overall.

  2. Weymar Osborne Gold

    So realistically how long will it take Cathay Pacific to be able to ramp up service to the point it resembles pre-pandemic?

    1. Glenn Guest

      Given the shortage of cockpit crew and the need to get many back to "currency", it will likely be 1Q2024 before CX operates a schedule that looks anything like it was pre-Covid

  3. DCYukon Guest

    With new US and some EU and Asian testing requirements affecting flights from HKG as well as mainland China, not to mention that HKG is now a sad shadow of what once made it such a vibrant society, I don’t see the rush to return.

  4. WW Guest

    I should avoid travelling to HKG, until many weeks after Chinese New Years; which is on and around the 22nd of Jan. There would be a lot traffic between the Mainland and HKG; hence there may be a potential China induced Covid surge in HKG.

  5. DCS Diamond

    Back in August I got infected with the omicron variant pf SARS-CoV-2 and developed a fairly severe case of COVID, despite being vaxxed (Pfizer) and boosted once at the time.
    In preparation for my upcoming 4-week Asian trip, I got boosted on Monday with the updated Pfizer 'bivalent' vaccine.
    Between the immunization I developed from the infection and being boosted with an updated and more effective vaccine, I think that I am in...

    Back in August I got infected with the omicron variant pf SARS-CoV-2 and developed a fairly severe case of COVID, despite being vaxxed (Pfizer) and boosted once at the time.
    In preparation for my upcoming 4-week Asian trip, I got boosted on Monday with the updated Pfizer 'bivalent' vaccine.
    Between the immunization I developed from the infection and being boosted with an updated and more effective vaccine, I think that I am in pretty well protected.
    However, I will still mask up when flying, unless I am in a premium cabin with a lot distance between passengers...

  6. Vinay Guest

    Lucky - Why are you worried about catching Covid from mainland Chinese in Hong Kong? I assume you are vaxxed//boosted and you're a young presumably healthy man. This is the disconnect that people have had for 2 years now. These vaccines are either effective or they're not. If you're still worried about catching Covid after vaccine, then there's not much to help the psychological side of things. Be fearless and go back into the world....

    Lucky - Why are you worried about catching Covid from mainland Chinese in Hong Kong? I assume you are vaxxed//boosted and you're a young presumably healthy man. This is the disconnect that people have had for 2 years now. These vaccines are either effective or they're not. If you're still worried about catching Covid after vaccine, then there's not much to help the psychological side of things. Be fearless and go back into the world.

    We have been working in hospitals for 3 years now. I've been mask free and over the Covid hysteria for more than 1 year now. I don't even mask when a Covid patient rolls by. It's time to return to reality.

    1. Points Adventure Guest

      Do cops prevent/solve all crime? If not, does that mean there should be no cops? Just b/c there are cops, does that mean you should carelessly stroll down the Tenderloin at night with Gucci bags and $100 bills on your forehead?

    2. Vinay Guest

      Wow - totally ignorant analogy. In fact, cops are even way more effective than vaccines because the probability of arrest after a crime is still pretty high regardless of their immediate physical presence - unless you live in a SH#$HOLE city like Portland.

      The fact is that the vast majority of us have all probably been both vaxxed and infected. Hybrid immunity is by far the most effective and long lasting. Covid risk of...

      Wow - totally ignorant analogy. In fact, cops are even way more effective than vaccines because the probability of arrest after a crime is still pretty high regardless of their immediate physical presence - unless you live in a SH#$HOLE city like Portland.

      The fact is that the vast majority of us have all probably been both vaxxed and infected. Hybrid immunity is by far the most effective and long lasting. Covid risk of severe disease and death is negligible at this point for 99.9% of us and comparable to any other respiratory virus. If you're going to go through the trouble of sitting in a crowded airport, crowded international flight etc etc etc, and then when you land in Hong Kong you're going to be worried about potentially catching Covid standing next to a mainland Chinese tourist at some point, you're being irrational.

      There are still people in the USA that refuse to gather indoors and wear masks driving their cars alone. These people are broken and will never be normal again. This is one of the side effects of the fear porn we've been exposed to for 3 years. I

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      "Wow - totally ignorant analogy."

      Yeah.... yours.

    4. greg99 New Member

      I'm not going to try to convince you of the inaccuracy of your analysis about immunity, other than to say layers are typically an effective defense strategy in most contexts, including infectious disease. For what it's worth, I still have not had COVID but was on dozens of flights this year, including long-haul international flights, where I wore my mask 100% of the time save for pulling it down to take bites/sips. Plus I've had...

      I'm not going to try to convince you of the inaccuracy of your analysis about immunity, other than to say layers are typically an effective defense strategy in most contexts, including infectious disease. For what it's worth, I still have not had COVID but was on dozens of flights this year, including long-haul international flights, where I wore my mask 100% of the time save for pulling it down to take bites/sips. Plus I've had 5 COVID vaccinations/boosters.

      I'm really only posting to say, as someone who still wears N95 masks on a regular basis, I sometimes wear mine in the car because I either (a) forget I'm wearing it, or (b) I'm only making a short drive and don't want to deal with doffing/donning it again. I wear glasses, and especially if I'm also wearing a baseball cap, it's a pain to deal with the N95 straps.

    5. BBK Diamond

      After telling us you've been vaxxed 5 times, telling the part of wearing the mask in the car isn't necessary, it's implied and we believe you. Trust me.

    6. Jake K Guest

      I used to get the flu a couple times a year, so I started getting the flu vaccine every year since around 2010. Still, I catch the flu once in awhile, because, well, there's no such things as 100% efficacy with vaccines. I've noticed the symptoms are much milder than it used to be pre-2010 when I didn't get flu shots. Regardless, it's not pleasant, and I would try, if at all possible, to avoid...

      I used to get the flu a couple times a year, so I started getting the flu vaccine every year since around 2010. Still, I catch the flu once in awhile, because, well, there's no such things as 100% efficacy with vaccines. I've noticed the symptoms are much milder than it used to be pre-2010 when I didn't get flu shots. Regardless, it's not pleasant, and I would try, if at all possible, to avoid situations where there's high likelihood of catching the flu. Same with Covid, except the stakes are a bit higher. I don't believe it's a psychological thing, just a common sense precaution.

  7. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

    I'm here over Christmas! Heads up on a couple of things:
    - Masks are technically still required onboard on all flights to/from Hong Kong (though in my experience nobody has cared, even on Cathay Pacific)
    - You'll still get an isolation order upon testing positive
    - Testing is still required for the first 5 days after arrival (though seems to be a lot less monitored than in the past)
    - A...

    I'm here over Christmas! Heads up on a couple of things:
    - Masks are technically still required onboard on all flights to/from Hong Kong (though in my experience nobody has cared, even on Cathay Pacific)
    - You'll still get an isolation order upon testing positive
    - Testing is still required for the first 5 days after arrival (though seems to be a lot less monitored than in the past)
    - A rapid antigen test is still required within 24 hours of departure (show a picture to the check-in agent/gate agent)
    - The mask mandate here is no joke – it's law, and everybody follows it, except perhaps by the nightclub area in the evening

    If you're ready for this, you'll have a blast – Hong Kong is more like it used to be pre-protests than ever before! But it still feels a little different from going to some other places.

    1. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

      Extending from this – I'd still wear a mask when boarding, deplaning, and transiting. I just wouldn't expect having to wear the mask past the first meal service, especially in a premium cabin (you'll likely have less luck in economy).

  8. Brian B Guest

    Hi Ben,

    According to the SCMP, people who test positive for COVID with an RAT or PCR will still be required to quarantine for five days (provided they test negative via RAT on Days 4 and 5). Close contacts, however, won’t be required to quarantine. Would it be possible to double check? You mentioned that nobody will be required to quarantine if they test positive.

    1. MTheTraveller Guest

      No more testing at the airport and only advised to take RAT for your 5 days in HKG. so basically, no one will know whether you are positive TBH because everything is on a voluntary basis now.

  9. DCS Diamond

    Pre-pandemic, Hong Kong was probably my favorite city in the world, and I’ve really been wanting to go back.
    With Hong Kong now fully reopen, without health monitoring or testing, I absolutely intend to travel there in the coming weeks.

    Me too! In fact, I wanted to travel to HK so much that I just amended the tail end the upcoming "reboot" of my Asian Escapade(TM) to fly BKK-HKG-SIN-EWR instead of flying BKK-SIN-EWR as...

    Pre-pandemic, Hong Kong was probably my favorite city in the world, and I’ve really been wanting to go back.
    With Hong Kong now fully reopen, without health monitoring or testing, I absolutely intend to travel there in the coming weeks.

    Me too! In fact, I wanted to travel to HK so much that I just amended the tail end the upcoming "reboot" of my Asian Escapade(TM) to fly BKK-HKG-SIN-EWR instead of flying BKK-SIN-EWR as I'd originally planned.

    I found awards galore at Conrad Hong Kong. The only hitch was when I contacted SQ to request that they cancel the BKK-SIN segment of my round trip SIN-BKK-SIN business-class award ticket, and I was told they could accommodate the cancellation request but they would not refund me the miles for the canceled segment even for a fee! Their reason was that I'd booked a round trip award ticket rather than two separate one-way award tickets, which came as a shock to me because I'd never heard of a FF program refusing to refund miles when a top member (I am a SQ Gold) cancels an award ticket. United has definitely never refused to refund or redeposit my miles when I canceled an award ticket.

    Has it always been SQ's policy not to refund miles for canceled two-way award tickets? Is that the policy of all the FF programs for RT award tickets but I somehow missed it?

  10. Richard Guest

    There should be strict rules requiring testing (repeat after 3 days) and 72 hour quarantine for all travelers that have been in Mainland China or PRC. This should apply to the passenger, not the origin of the flight. The loopholes must be closed.

  11. CDKing Guest

    I booked a trip for March a few weeks ago. lots of phantom space. The best I was able to book is premium economy from SFO. I was hoping to go while it's still a pain to visit so it's not overrun with foreign tourists.

  12. Vic Guest

    But vaccines are still required?

    1. sacrxy Guest

      Requires 2 doses of BioNTech, Moderna or one dose of Janssen. I won't list requirements for other Covid vaccines not available here.

      Requires PCR test within 48 hours or RAT test within 24 hours before arrival.

  13. ben H Guest

    As of today 28 December 2022, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Inida, and Milan city of Italy have already announced additional screenings and/or testing requirments for passengers arrivings from mainland China PRC. The United States and some European countries are also reported to be following with similar measures. It is still unclear if such restrictions will extend futher, or will include travelers returning from Hong Kong to their home country. Be reminded....

  14. Tim Dunn Diamond

    One route that likely won't restart is EWR-HKG on United because the 787 can't operate a flight that long w/ Russian airspace closed. Cathay Pacific had to decide to overfly Russian airspace in order to make their route from JFK work - and they use the A350-1000 which is the longest range new generation aircraft in current service.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      "because the 787 can't operate a flight that long w/ Russian airspace closed."

      Based on what?

      Even if the flight bulged out completely around the southeast coast of Japan to avoid overflying Kamchatka, that'd still "only" put it at about 7400nm, or an extra 45-50min flying time.

      Even taking still-air into account, there are extant 787 flights longer than that on just the great circle, including UA's planned SFO-BLR.

    2. greg99 New Member

      You can google the story, but AA recently stopped codesharing with CX JFK-HKG b/c high winds aloft forced them to take a more northerly polar route, resulting in a transit of Russian airspace. The alternative would have required a tech stop.

  15. Luke Guest

    I'd predict the PRC will do the same once the current big Covid wave calms a bit, and fully allow and try to encourage foreign tourism given the mess in that industry. They may even declare that all unused tourist visas that had a expiration date between start of pandemic and now is "extended" till end if 2023 or so

    1. CDKing Guest

      They have already voided 10 year L visas issued prior to covid so I doubt there will be any extension.

    2. sacrxy Guest

      No visa is needed to visit HK for US citizens. The 10 year visa was for visit to mainland China

  16. HKG Guest

    Back soon, booking an eight hour layover in The Pier. Bring on the Dan Dan Mien!

  17. Hiro Diamond

    Awesome! Now F pax can use The Wing hassle-free!

  18. MTheTraveller Guest

    As a Hong Konger living in Hong Kong, i welcome everyone to this beautiful city again. Please don't project your hatred on the people of Hong Kong. You visit the city to interact with the locals, not with the authorities.

    Once again, hope to see everyone from all four corners of the world!

  19. LadyOlives Guest

    Only fools rush in.

    Countries should impose strict testing requirements on Chinese nationals wishing to travel until the COVID wave there abates.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

MTheTraveller Guest

As a Hong Konger living in Hong Kong, i welcome everyone to this beautiful city again. Please don't project your hatred on the people of Hong Kong. You visit the city to interact with the locals, not with the authorities. Once again, hope to see everyone from all four corners of the world!

7
Points Adventure Guest

Do cops prevent/solve all crime? If not, does that mean there should be no cops? Just b/c there are cops, does that mean you should carelessly stroll down the Tenderloin at night with Gucci bags and $100 bills on your forehead?

2
Alvin | YTHK Diamond

I'm here over Christmas! Heads up on a couple of things: - Masks are technically still required onboard on all flights to/from Hong Kong (though in my experience nobody has cared, even on Cathay Pacific) - You'll still get an isolation order upon testing positive - Testing is still required for the first 5 days after arrival (though seems to be a lot less monitored than in the past) - A rapid antigen test is still required within 24 hours of departure (show a picture to the check-in agent/gate agent) - The mask mandate here is no joke – it's law, and everybody follows it, except perhaps by the nightclub area in the evening If you're ready for this, you'll have a blast – Hong Kong is more like it used to be pre-protests than ever before! But it still feels a little different from going to some other places.

2
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