Hong Kong Mulls Quarantine-Free Travel

Hong Kong Mulls Quarantine-Free Travel

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Since the start of the pandemic, Hong Kong has taken a “zero COVID” strategy to managing the pandemic, despite several huge infection waves. Hong Kong continues to have a quarantine for visitors, but could that finally be changing?

Hong Kong may eliminate quarantine by November

The South China Morning Post reports that Hong Kong’s new Secretary for Health, Lo Chung-mau, has hinted that Hong Kong could be looking to drop its quarantine by later this year.

Hong Kong has slowly been easing travel restrictions in recent months, but still requires all visitors to undergo a one week quarantine in a facility, which is a deal-breaker for a vast majority of potential visitors. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is hosting a big global summit in early November 2022, and it seems like Hong Kong may be looking to alter its quarantine requirement prior to that.

It’s suggested that Hong Kong could eliminate a quarantine by then, instead replacing it with the need to get tested, and perhaps restrictions on where you can go in your first few days. As the Secretary for Health explains:

“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.”

Even ahead of November, Hong Kong is considering altering the mandatory quarantine period. While a quarantine in a facility is currently required, we could see travelers instead be able to partly quarantine in home isolation, which would at least be less costly and more comfortable.

Could Hong Kong open to quarantine-free travel later this year?

This is a step in the right direction, but…

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).

However, there’s still a lot more easing of restrictions to go before Hong Kong is a place people visit again. 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.

Meanwhile Hong Kong and mainland China have among the strictest travel restrictions. Hong Kong claims that China’s “one country, two systems” policy lets Hong Kong have its own coronavirus rules without copying mainland China.

Hong Kong will need to decide whether it wants to continue to take a zero-tolerance approach toward coronavirus or not. If it does, then quarantine-free travel probably isn’t realistic, and restrictions need to be pretty strict.

Coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, so then the question needs to be whether Hong Kong plans to maintain this approach in the long-run, and remain shut off from the rest of the world.

At this point it seems like the best we can do is encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted, give people access to treatments that reduce the death rate, give people access to testing so they can isolate if they’re not feeling well, encourage vulnerable people to take precautions, etc.

I just don’t see how Hong Kong’s strategy of maintaining a zero-coronavirus approach while trying to reopen will work.

Will Hong Kong ditch its zero-COVID approach?

Bottom line

Hong Kong’s new Secretary for Health has indicated that we could see quarantine-free travel by later this year. Specifically, by November we could see the quarantine requirement eliminated, with travelers instead having to test, possibly avoid high-risk areas, etc.

This is still far from a sure bet, but it sounds like things are at least moving in the right direction, even if it’s at a glacial pace…

Do you think we’ll see Hong Kong bring back quarantine-free travel this year?

Conversations (24)
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  1. Bill Guest

    Will never go to HK or mainland China. Too dangerous.

  2. iamhere Guest

    November is no coincidence.

  3. Steve Sanchez Guest

    Whilst you were all distracted by Boris Johnson resigning, the UK government quietly published a report that confirms that the vaccinated population as a whole accounted for a shocking 94% of all COVID deaths in April and May 2022 with the unvaxed only resulting in 6% of the COVID 19 deaths. The experimental vaccines (none are fully approved) are not what big pharma is saying and the only people who I see getting COVID positive tests are those who have the jabs.

    1. Lighthouse Guest

      Of course that’s the case fool. It’s because virtually everyone in the UK is vaccinated! Who else is going to die? And the death numbers are 95% lower too…. Thank you science/vaccines!

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      @Steve Sanchez, I mean, when the overwhelming majority of a populace is vaccinated, and recent deaths are generally due to new strains that the current jabs aren't attuned toward (i.e. same thing we've seen with the flu, every year for decades).... then those are the kind of proportions that one would EXPECT.

      Did you put ANY thought into that rant at all??

  4. Blake McCay Guest

    Hard to see how this moves the needle at all in terms of travel numbers, particularly since you can still test positive on a PCR weeks after you've cleared an infection. Sad to see what has become of one of the great cities of the world.

  5. Lam Guest

    Hong Kong should open back and have quarantine free. It’s time to change and catch up the world. I very missing Hong Kong and friends there. Hope they will change the quarantine at the end of July. I will go there at august to see my family and friends. Just hope not 6 PCR and 4 rapid tests anymore. It’s too much for the coast of the tests and the quarantine hotel. Thank for considering this opinion et suggestion from the world. Bonne journée!

  6. CMorgan Guest

    Currently in Hong Kong waiting on a flight to Manila. Almost all the stores are closed. Only a handful of lounges open. Just like 2020.

  7. Susan Guest

    The possibility that HK will require PCR tests, even without a quarantine is also a nonstarter. PCR tests do not necessarily indicate a current infection; they can indicate an infection anytime in the previous 90 days (give or take). Given the highly infectious nature of the various omicron variants, about half of the US population is estimated to have been infected, even if they never had severe or even any symptoms. Some epidemiologists expect reinfections...

    The possibility that HK will require PCR tests, even without a quarantine is also a nonstarter. PCR tests do not necessarily indicate a current infection; they can indicate an infection anytime in the previous 90 days (give or take). Given the highly infectious nature of the various omicron variants, about half of the US population is estimated to have been infected, even if they never had severe or even any symptoms. Some epidemiologists expect reinfections of some of those and new infections if those previously spared with BA5 and future variants. PCR tests are a recipe for effective continued closure.

  8. Luke Guest

    Big brother PRC will not further reopen to Hong Kong if they do this, they will see "either you are with us, or the rest of world!"

    "Living with the virus" is strictly not allowed there for forseeable future

    1. Stuart Guest

      Still irks me that the Chinese Govt acts all righteous in their approach to Covid policies when they are the reason we have lost years in our lives given that they spent months hiding it from the rest of the world. It's almost like everyone forgot that the suffering and pain in the world has entirely been the fault of the Chinese Government.

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Of course no one forgot... but who can really do anything about Winnie Xi Pooh trying to act all sanctimonious within his own country?

  9. Ethan Guest

    Winnie the Pooh won’t let HK has quarantine-free travel, end of story.

  10. Stuart Guest

    Meanwhile, Singapore and Bangkok are laughing and encouraging them to stay closed forever.

    Love that they say they will consider reopening "later this year." What's the difference? Covid is going to be here for years, if not forever. Might as well just get the inevitable over with now, like Australia. At this rate Hong Kong will be decimated when they finally do open, which will be when we are up to the variant BA.472.

    1. Andrew Diamond

      Some part of me wonders if decimating HK's relevance is part of the 'one country, one system' strategy.

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      @Andrew, that was initially my guess, as they've long sought to de-emphasize Hong Kong as the region's World City in favor of Shanghai.

      But then again, look at what they've lately been doing to Shanghai -- lockdowns so severe, that starving people are opening their windows to literally HOWL like freakin' banshees, in utter frustration:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SRuKZ5P1io

    3. Ralph4878 Guest

      If you don't think Singapore will go back to closing its borders or requiring testing/vaccination/boosting to enter, you may be in for a surprise. And given how bungled the government here in BKK has handled the pandemic, anything goes here.

    1. Robert Schrader Guest

      Japan is worse than Hong Kong/China/Taiwan to me, because they have never been a covid zero country, and have never imposed any legally enforceable quarantine measures on their citizens.

      Right now, Japanese citizens can leave and enter Japan basically as they did in 2019, while nonresident foreigners must do so using cumbersome business visas or as participants on heavily-surveilled "monitor tours."

      Less brutal than the Chinese approach, sure, but every bit as absurd.

      Japan is worse than Hong Kong/China/Taiwan to me, because they have never been a covid zero country, and have never imposed any legally enforceable quarantine measures on their citizens.

      Right now, Japanese citizens can leave and enter Japan basically as they did in 2019, while nonresident foreigners must do so using cumbersome business visas or as participants on heavily-surveilled "monitor tours."

      Less brutal than the Chinese approach, sure, but every bit as absurd.

  11. EL Guest

    Hong Kong will never return to what it was, politically or socially, from the viewpoint of a traveler or a local

  12. Alonzo Diamond

    Dumb rules. Hong Kong & Macau are going right down the drain.

  13. Ryan Guest

    Any type of restriction on movement beyond a testing requirement is a deal breaker for those of us who have been to Hong Kong before and enjoy an annual long weekend trip.

  14. Belinda Guest

    Conrad added as a quarantine hotel
    Still not happening for me. I’m sure it means In my room and not the executive lounge!
    Im still not going with the 7 days testing and no bars bs. Do better
    Im vaccinated, that’s (more than) enough. No test, no quarantine, no mask, no QR code. Like every other country.

    1. Andrew Diamond

      I don't know about "no mask like every other country."

      Have you been to Singapore, KL or Korea lately?

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.

ConcordeBoy Diamond

@Andrew, that was initially my guess, as they've long sought to de-emphasize Hong Kong as the region's World City in favor of Shanghai. But then again, look at what they've lately been doing to Shanghai -- lockdowns so severe, that starving people are opening their windows to literally HOWL like freakin' banshees, in utter frustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SRuKZ5P1io

3
Stuart Guest

Meanwhile, Singapore and Bangkok are laughing and encouraging them to stay closed forever. Love that they say they will consider reopening "later this year." What's the difference? Covid is going to be here for years, if not forever. Might as well just get the inevitable over with now, like Australia. At this rate Hong Kong will be decimated when they finally do open, which will be when we are up to the variant BA.472.

3
Andrew Diamond

Some part of me wonders if decimating HK's relevance is part of the 'one country, one system' strategy.

2
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