Passengers line up to be taken to the Hong Kong International Airport on April 1, 2022 for hotel quarantine. ISAAC LAWRENCE AFP Travelers arriving in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from overseas and Taiwan will have their hotel quarantine period reduced from seven days to three days from Friday, plus four days of medical observation at home, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiuLee Ka-chiu said on Monday.
He said that those confirmed positive with COVID 19 through nucleic acid tests will be issued with a red code on the LeaveHomeSafe app. On arrival in the city, others will get a yellow code. Those with a yellow code can take public transport and go to work or visit shopping malls and wet markets during the medical surveillance period. They are not allowed to enter premises that require a vaccine pass, including restaurants, bars, fitness centers, playgrounds and indoor entertainment venues.
The health code will automatically turn blue if a visitor tests negative after seven days, allowing the person to enter premises regulated by the vaccine pass, Lee said.
Lee said the SAR government aims to strike a balance between pandemic control and economic development while continuing to reduce severe cases and death.
Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau said the original 7 day hotel quarantine was no longer cost-effective because of efforts to reopen links with the international community. Only 4 percent of incoming travelers have been confirmed to be infected with COVID - 19, with half of them detected by nucleic acid tests at the airport.
Lo said that arrivals are required to conduct health observation checks themselves for three days after the first week. They will have to undergo a rapid antigen test daily for 10 days, as well as five nucleic acid tests.
Lo warned that breaching the compulsory quarantine order is a criminal offense and that offenders can be jailed for six months, as well as pay a fine of HK $25,000 $3,185 Lee said that the HKSAR government is in discussions about resuming quarantine-free travel with the Chinese mainland while ensuring cross-border travel complies with the mainland's anti-pandemic policy.
The death toll in the city during the fifth wave of the pandemic was brought to 9,334, according to the HKSAR. 4,040 new COVID 19 cases and seven deaths on Monday.
Legislator Tan Yueheng expressed support for the government s decision to cut quarantine, saying this would help Hong Kong boost its economy, restart business exchanges, and revive local industries. He hopes that the government will strictly implement the quarantine plans, strengthen related law enforcement, and optimize entry arrangements at the airport.
Chow Pak-chin, the president of local think tank Wisdom Hong Kong, said it was a good time to relax COVID 19 entry rules based on scientific data analysis, adding that the vitality of the virus is expected to be lower amid the scorching heat in August.
He called on the government to closely watch the infection data under the new measures to assess the risk of further outbreaks.
The respiratory specialist Leung Tsz-chiu said that it is not the time yet for the BA to relax some measures, such as a total exemption from quarantine arrangement for overseas arrivals. 5 - the most common variant in the world - accounts for only about 10 percent of the infections in Hong Kong. The city should make efforts to contain the spread of the most contagious virus strain in the city, Leung said.