Tue. May 17th, 2022
Hong Kong lifts flight bans, cuts quarantine to 'relaunch' economy

In a press convention Monday, Chief Government Carrie Lam mentioned that residents of 9 international locations, together with India, the UK and the USA can be allowed to return residence beginning April 1. The opposite nations are Australia, Canada, France, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Solely vaccinated residents of Hong Kong can be eligible to return from these 9 international locations. It was not instantly clear what the adjustments meant for non-residents arriving from any nation exterior mainland China.

Flights from the 9 international locations had been banned earlier this yr, because the Omicron variant was spreading internationally. Lam mentioned the bans weren’t obligatory anymore for the reason that coronavirus scenario in Hong Kong was not any higher than in different international locations.

As soon as Asia’s undisputed enterprise hub, the southern Chinese language metropolis is at present present process a troubling fifth wave of infections, resulting in extra fatalities, an overload of the well being care system, a mind drain and an enormous punch to the economic system. Regardless of that, the federal government has largely remained dedicated to its “zero Covid” coverage, sustaining stringent social distancing necessities and forcing many companies to shut briefly.

Lam additionally mentioned that beginning subsequent month, vaccinated Hong Kong residents getting back from all international locations can be requested to quarantine in motels for seven days, down from 14.

She added that vacationers can be allowed to go away resort quarantine in the event that they examined destructive for the virus on the fifth day, adopted by destructive assessments on the sixth and seventh day. Nonetheless, they’d nonetheless be required to finish an additional seven days of self-monitoring.

Hong Kong’s quarantine restrictions have gained notoriety within the worldwide enterprise neighborhood. Beforehand, the requirement for many inbound vacationers was to self-isolate in resort rooms for 3 weeks, making it one of many world’s longest quarantines.

Final week, Lam acknowledged the necessity to enhance the town’s standing in international enterprise, saying that the time had come for the federal government to evaluation border controls.

“I’ve a really robust feeling that individuals’s tolerance are fading. I’ve an excellent [feeling] that a few of our monetary establishments are dropping persistence about this type of remoted standing of Hong Kong, as Hong Kong is a world monetary middle,” she mentioned at a press convention.

“We now have to make preparations for a relaunch of our economic system,” she mentioned Monday.

Hong Kong expats are up in arms about quarantine. Singapore stands to gain

Nonetheless, the problem has already prompted a big exodus.

Final month, greater than 94,000 folks departed the town, whereas solely about 23,000 got here in, immigration information confirmed. And within the first half of March, greater than 50,000 folks left, whereas about 7,000 entered.

Based on the Hong Kong Normal Chamber of Commerce, the outflow is affecting companies throughout the economic system.

In a press release earlier this month, Chairman Peter Wong mentioned that the town was “going through an exodus of educated employees on a scale not seen for the reason that early Nineties.”

On Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong mentioned it welcomed the lifting of restrictions, calling it “an vital step in the direction of Hong Kong’s restoration from the pandemic.”

“AmCham applauds the federal government for listening to the considerations of the enterprise neighborhood, each native and worldwide, by illustrating a framework for a return to normalcy,” the group’s chairman, Joseph Armas, informed CNN Enterprise.

“Nonetheless, we hope the federal government can rebuild the boldness locally that has led to departures of expatriates and native expertise by offering clear and constant communication concerning its insurance policies.”

— Lizzy Yee contributed to this report.

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