HONG KONG – Hong Kong will tighten coronavirus travel restrictions to align it more with mainland China, its chief said Tuesday, as the city extended its streak of more than two months without a major local outbreak.
The announcement came despite concerns from the international hub’s business community that the city remains indefinitely cut off from the rest of the world, with one of the most stringent mandatory quarantine regimes of any jurisdiction.
Most arrivals must undergo 14-21 days of hotel quarantine.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Hong Kong will go even further in trying to persuade Chinese leaders to re-establish travel with the mainland.
“Soon we will… announce that most of the quarantine exemptions granted to specific groups of visitors from overseas and the mainland will be canceled,” Lam said, adding that only essential workers such as truck drivers. cross-border workers would be allowed to free themselves from quarantine. trips.
Currently, Hong Kong allows certain groups of people to skip quarantine or self-isolate at home. These include diplomats and business leaders as well as some mainland holders of Hong Kong resident cards.
Lam did not specify which categories would now be denied exemptions.
Hollywood star Nicole Kidman was allowed to skip quarantine to shoot a TV show last month, a move that has sparked a lot of public anger.
Lam has previously described the reopening to the mainland as “more important” than restoring Hong Kong’s international travel links.
On Tuesday, she made it clear that Beijing expects the city to emulate its own strict restrictions.
“We are caught in a kind of dilemma because to resume some non-quarantine travel with the mainland, we need to make sure that our anti-Covid 19 practices are more in line with the mainland’s practices,” she told reporters.
“So if Hong Kong relaxes border controls for people arriving from overseas or adopts what other countries have done – supposedly to live with the Covid-19 virus – then the chances of traveling with the mainland will be reduced. ” The Hong Kong business community has watched with growing exasperation the reopening of rival financial centers such as Singapore, Tokyo, London and New York.
On Monday, the leading financial companies lobby group warned that Lam’s decision to pursue a zero Covid strategy and keep the city away was hammering away at its long-term prospects as a hub of business.
But there are few signs of change on the horizon.
China maintains strict restrictions on overseas arrivals and has given no timetable for opening its borders.
Over the weekend, the Financial Times, citing a Chinese government source, said Beijing plans to keep its borders largely closed until the end of a large Communist Party rally in November 2022.
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