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    Hong Kong to further relax COVID restrictions

    HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong’s leader yesterday said he will soon make a decision on further relaxing coronavirus restrictions, as residents and businesses decry quarantine rules that have kept the finance hub cut off for more than two years.

    “We will make a decision soon and announce to the public,” chief executive John Lee told reporters.

    “We want to be connected with the different places in the world. We would like to have an orderly opening up,” he added.

    Hong Kong has adhered to a version of China’s strict zero-COVID rules throughout the pandemic, battering the economy and deepening the city’s brain drain as rival business hubs reopen.

    It maintains mandatory hotel quarantine for international arrivals – currently at three days – widespread masking, business operating limits and bans on more than four people gathering in public.

    Lee took office in July and vowed to re-open the city while keeping cases low.

    He reduced hotel quarantine from seven to three days but has faced a growing chorus of criticism from residents, business organisations and health experts saying he should go further.

    Over the past week multiple Hong Kong media outlets have reported, citing sources, that the government has already agreed to lift quarantine. Lee would not confirm that decision or commit to a firm timeline yesterday.

    But his comments were the strongest indication yet that Hong Kong is planning to join much of the rest of the world in accepting endemicity.

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