Hong Kong Scraps Quarantine For Travelers, But…

Hong Kong Scraps Quarantine For Travelers, But…

25

It’s an exciting week for travel! Not only is Japan reopening its borders on a widespread basis, but Hong Kong is also eliminating quarantine for travelers. However, Hong Kong needs to go a bit further if it wants to see any real number of tourists…

Hong Kong eliminates hotel quarantine

Hong Kong will be ending its hotel quarantine policy for travelers as of September 26, 2022. Most recently, Hong Kong required a three day hotel quarantine for inbound international travelers, though in the past the quarantine has been as long as 21 days.

Unfortunately don’t expect you’ll be able to enter Hong Kong as you did pre-pandemic, as there are still significant restrictions:

  • Travelers will need to be fully vaccinated, and as of November 30, 2022, will need to be boosted as well
  • A rapid antigen or PCR test will be required prior to travel
  • A PCR test will be administered upon arrival, though you won’t need to wait for the result before entering Hong Kong
  • Additional PCR tests will be required on days two, four, and six, in Hong Kong; if you ever test positive, you’ll need to quarantine
  • Once in Hong Kong, travelers will need to undergo three days of medical surveillance, and during that time they can’t visit bars, restaurants, fitness clubs, etc.

Hong Kong has taken strict coronavirus measures since the start of the pandemic, though has had some major outbreaks. At this point it’s hard to say that Hong Kong is pursuing a zero coronavirus strategy, as we’re seeing thousands of cases per day on an ongoing basis.

Hong Kong has been making some positive changes in recent months when it comes to travel restrictions, from ending flight bans, to ending bans on transit passengers, to allowing visitors (with quarantine). Back in July, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Health, Lo Chung-mau, hinted that an arrangement like this could be coming:

“Is nothing required any more? I think that would be a bit tough. At least PCR testing is needed. But does quarantine have to be confined to a fixed location? Could it be medical surveillance, plus a yellow code and not appearing in a bar for the first few days? I won’t rule that out. I very much hope to achieve that as well because I like to travel too.”

Hong Kong has reopened to quarantine-free travel

This is a step in the right direction, but not enough

It’s certainly a step in the right direction that it will now be possible to visit Hong Kong without quarantine. This will probably come in handy for those who have close friends or relatives in Hong Kong, and haven’t seen them in a long time. Furthermore, this could be useful for those conducting important business.

However, this policy is most definitely not going to attract the casual traveler. Pre-travel testing, up to four tests on arrival, and not being able to attend many venues for three days, will be a deal-breaker for most.

At this point even the countries that initially took among the strictest approaches to managing coronavirus have moved on to the “it’s time to live with the virus” phase of the pandemic. Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, have all overwhelmingly eliminated travel restrictions, despite initially closing borders for extended periods of time.

Hong Kong is in an odd position at this point. It seems pretty clear that Hong Kong won’t be able to get back to having daily cases in the single or double (or even triple) digits, yet policies are created as if that’s the case. I’m curious to see how Hong Kong’s approach is adjusted over the coming months. Is this just a temporary solution, and will Hong Kong eventually just rip the band-aid off and fully reopen, or what?

This policy still won’t attract many casual visitors

Bottom line

Hong Kong has announced a plan to reopen with quarantine-free travel, which is an exciting development. However, don’t expect that this will attract many visitors, as Hong Kong will still require pre-travel testing, up to four tests on arrival, and a surveillance period of three days.

It’s a step in the right direction, but not enough, in my opinion.

What do you make of Hong Kong eliminating quarantine?

Conversations (25)
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  1. Steve Sanchez Guest

    Until the vaccine mandates and testing is gone, I won't be back, and I love going to HK.

    1. Ali Guest

      I am sure they'll slowly relax those restrictions in the near future. On the other hand, US still requires proof of vaccination for foreigners entering the country, same with Spain requires vaccination for foreigners entering from outside the EU. Even Japan that had announced border opening needs a negative PCR test unless you can proof a triple covid vaccination.

  2. Walkup Guest

    Last in Hong Kong February 2020. Not expecting to return now until after Chinese New Year. And waiting for Hong Kong to stop lagging behind Singapore.

  3. iamhere Guest

    I think you completely ignore the point for why many countries such as Australia and New Zealand scrapped the policy. The big reason is they can't afford it and they need the tourism money. Also, your sources and official sources are a bit different. It seems you do not have the most update information on this matter regarding the three days of not going anywhere.

  4. OT Guest

    Everybody here (Hong Kong) knows this is insufficient for visitors, but for us locals it's HUGE. There is still some hassle but if you live in HK the 3-day limitations on restaurants are not much of an issue, and even if you test positive you can "quarantine" at home.

    There is such pent-up demand for leisure travel that I expect high prices and sold out flights through the end of the year, just based...

    Everybody here (Hong Kong) knows this is insufficient for visitors, but for us locals it's HUGE. There is still some hassle but if you live in HK the 3-day limitations on restaurants are not much of an issue, and even if you test positive you can "quarantine" at home.

    There is such pent-up demand for leisure travel that I expect high prices and sold out flights through the end of the year, just based on local O&D demand. Transfer traffic may also grow but frankly because of the former point I expect CX will not be very competitive, price-wise, for a while.

    That said, there are no restrictions or testing requirements anymore for transfer passengers (who stay at the airport), so hopefully Ben (and others) you can sample the joys of CX soon, even if you don't get into the city. In-flight service remains excellent, and while some of the lounges are still closed (notably The Pier First), that will likely change soon.

    I frankly think that the remaining restrictions will be lifted by November. The game being played is weird virtue signalling to some pro-Beijing locals, who care more about opening the border with China than the rest of the world. But everyone knows it's just a game - HK has moved away from "zero COVID" since February, and it's been a one-way road to relaxation since March, which is the opposite direction from what mainland China is doing.

  5. Chuck Berlin Guest

    can you please check on the pre-arrival test requirement...

    last report i heard was that this was dropped too -

    other points line up

    1. Ali Guest

      They scraped the PCR pre-flight test, only need to do a RAT test within 24 hours prior flight.

  6. Tom Guest

    what about transfer pax, is that possible now?

    1. Zz Guest

      I am wondering this too. I have a 17 hour layover in HKG. Does anybody know if I can enter the city for a few hours without a PCR test or self monitoring?

    2. Alvin | YTHK Gold

      No PCRs required for transfers.

      You'll need a rapid antigen test to enter the city, though. If you're laying over in HKG, you'll also not be able to enter restaurants, bars, etc. (you'll be able to take away).

    3. Craig Guest

      Thanks! Saw this after I posted

    4. Eskimo Guest

      "not be able to enter restaurants, bars, etc. (you'll be able to take away)."

      What's the point since
      1. If you're contagious you probably already spread them on your arrival flight or going into the city on MTR!!!!!!!
      2. If you are not local, your method of take away is still likely entering the restaurant to take away.
      3. Like other places that have zero tolerance, it doesn't work 100%. The burden...

      "not be able to enter restaurants, bars, etc. (you'll be able to take away)."

      What's the point since
      1. If you're contagious you probably already spread them on your arrival flight or going into the city on MTR!!!!!!!
      2. If you are not local, your method of take away is still likely entering the restaurant to take away.
      3. Like other places that have zero tolerance, it doesn't work 100%. The burden doesn't seem to outweigh benefit.

      Sometimes I wonder did these policy makers even think about it?
      John Lee? I guess that's what happens when there is no competition. If HK is trying to get an exception from Beijing, make it a worthwhile one.

    5. Craig Guest

      I'm concerned about transfers, too -- not sure where to see the current "rules" (i.e., is a pre-test PCR required?)
      Luckily, I don't have too long of layover, so not leaving the airport, but I would like to know what the current restrictions are (although flying in November).

  7. C L Guest

    It's actually more like 12 tests:

    ESTING REGIMEN:
    Day 0: PCR at airport, plus rapid test. Movement restrictions in place
    Day 1: Rapid test. Movement restrictions in place
    Day 2: PCR plus rapid test. Movement restrictions in place
    Day 3: Rapid test. Movement restrictions lifted in the morning if previous test is negative
    Day 4: PCR plus rapid test. Allowed to move freely
    Day 5: Rapid test. Allowed to...

    It's actually more like 12 tests:

    ESTING REGIMEN:
    Day 0: PCR at airport, plus rapid test. Movement restrictions in place
    Day 1: Rapid test. Movement restrictions in place
    Day 2: PCR plus rapid test. Movement restrictions in place
    Day 3: Rapid test. Movement restrictions lifted in the morning if previous test is negative
    Day 4: PCR plus rapid test. Allowed to move freely
    Day 5: Rapid test. Allowed to move freely
    Day 6: PCR plus rapid test. Allowed to move freely
    Day 7: Rapid test. Allowed to move freely

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-09-23/hong-kong-to-end-mandatory-hotel-quarantine-from-next-week

  8. Hong Konger Guest

    Really need to clarify what does fully vaccinated mean, as it seems HK requires to get boosted every 5 months max. So this will be very tricky since most foreigners stopped at the 2nd one, a year+ ago, and even the one's that had the third one had it early 2022, meaning it's expired.
    FWIW HK is rolling out the 5th vax right now.

    1. Notbad41 Guest

      What stops people from just writing their own numbers on their card and saying they got boosted? There’s no database to check. I will never take another covid shot. Two weeks after J&j shot and I have a heart attack.

    2. Joe Greaves Guest

      So many people have died or had serious health issues with these "death jabs". I read somewhere that Pfizer's attorneys said that the company's liability would be like $3.3 TRILLION USD for the shots because they KNEW of all the health risks. COVID was never isolated so the PCR tests only really looked for a cold or the flu and would go positive if you had either. How else would the flu have disappeared for 2020?

    3. Alvin | YTHK Gold

      This is not the case - all you need is two doses at the moment from any time. There is no requirement for that dose to be from less than 5 months ago.

    4. Hong Konger Guest

      Hi Alvin. Long time, good to hear from you.
      If you follow LoyaltyLobby, he keeps posting a table for Vax pass
      That does state that 5 month.
      https://loyaltylobby.com/2022/09/23/hong-kong-scraps-quarantine-on-september-26-2022-requires-3-days-of-medical-surveillance/

      Also, this was switched as Hongies uproared up until now, that they need to be Vaxxed, and visitors don't need to. Seems this was switched. Really unclear.

    5. Ali Guest

      Fully vaxxed refers to 2 doses only. HK has no mandatory vaccination, but 94.1% of the total population have 1 dose, 91.6% have 2 doses, 73% are boosted.

  9. Brad Guest

    What’s he point of opening with those rules in place. I think the old way is almost better.

  10. A380-800 New Member

    Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan all decide to open up to foreign visitors! What a week!

  11. Ethan Guest

    I’m surprised HK is allowed to have 0 days of mandatory quarantine considering it’s Beijing’s puppet now.
    If you crave HK, better visit soon before they pull more shenanigans.

  12. Democracy Guest

    Hk is rules by Beijing now, and the commies don't seem to care about tourism. Their covid policy has been not the best

    1. David Guest

      Right - looking how they are handling it, the lockdowns, on the mainland. Too bad. Hong Kong used to be an awesome place to be.

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

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Ali Guest

They scraped the PCR pre-flight test, only need to do a RAT test within 24 hours prior flight.

1
OT Guest

Everybody here (Hong Kong) knows this is insufficient for visitors, but for us locals it's HUGE. There is still some hassle but if you live in HK the 3-day limitations on restaurants are not much of an issue, and even if you test positive you can "quarantine" at home. There is such pent-up demand for leisure travel that I expect high prices and sold out flights through the end of the year, just based on local O&D demand. Transfer traffic may also grow but frankly because of the former point I expect CX will not be very competitive, price-wise, for a while. That said, there are no restrictions or testing requirements anymore for transfer passengers (who stay at the airport), so hopefully Ben (and others) you can sample the joys of CX soon, even if you don't get into the city. In-flight service remains excellent, and while some of the lounges are still closed (notably The Pier First), that will likely change soon. I frankly think that the remaining restrictions will be lifted by November. The game being played is weird virtue signalling to some pro-Beijing locals, who care more about opening the border with China than the rest of the world. But everyone knows it's just a game - HK has moved away from "zero COVID" since February, and it's been a one-way road to relaxation since March, which is the opposite direction from what mainland China is doing.

1
Alvin | YTHK Gold

No PCRs required for transfers. You'll need a rapid antigen test to enter the city, though. If you're laying over in HKG, you'll also not be able to enter restaurants, bars, etc. (you'll be able to take away).

1
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