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HK scrapping quarantine for international arrivals

HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong announced yesterday it will end mandatory hotel quarantine, scrapping some of the world’s toughest travel restrictions which have battered the economy and kept the finance hub internationally isolated.

The long-awaited move will bring relief to residents and businesses clamouring for the Asian business hub to rejoin the rest of the world in resuming unhindered travel and living with the coronavirus.

For the past two and a half years Hong Kong has adhered to a version of China’s strict zero-Covid rules, deepening a brain drain as rival business hubs re-open.

The announcement leaves mainland China as the only major economy still hewing to lengthy quarantine for international arrivals.

Chief Executive John Lee said the current three days of hotel quarantine would be reduced to zero for those arriving from overseas and Taiwan.

From September 26, travellers will be subject to PCR tests on arrival and will be unable to visit restaurants for the first three days under a system authorities have dubbed “0+3”.

“Under this arrangement, the quarantine hotel system will be cancelled,” Lee told reporters.

Hong Kong once boasted one of the world’s busiest airports but passenger numbers this year are just 3.8 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The government faced mounting pressure from residents, business leaders and even some of its own public health advisors to end quarantine, especially after the coronavirus tore through the city at the start of the year.

Passengers queue up at the arrival hall for buses going to quarantine hotels from Hong Kong International Airport. PHOTO: AP

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