Hong Kong has finally announced that it will be taking its first step to reopen its borders to international travellers.
Starting 1st May 2022, Hong Kong will allow non-residents to enter. This means that from this date, fully-vaccinated travellers will be able to enter the Chinese Special Administrative Region, and will be subject to the same boarding, quarantine and testing arrangements as Hong Kong residents. Fully vaccinated international travellers will have to take a pre-departure test, followed by a further “test and hold” procedure on arrival at Hong Kong International, and finally undergo a 7-day hotel quarantine.
The “test and hold” arrangement is set to be improved from early May, to allow travellers to take rapid antigen tests rather than the previous RT-PCR tests, which the Hong Kong government said would “shorten the waiting time of inbound passengers at the airport to reduce crowd gathering, while maintaining stringent control of importation risks”.
In addition, the government of Hong Kong has announced that it is loosening its “route-specific flight suspension mechanism”, which is designed to reduce the importation of COVID-19 cases on inbound flights. Stating that the current thresholds for banning airlines were “too harsh”, these will be adjusted from 1st May 2022, with suspensions being triggered if 5 or more passengers, or 5% or more of passengers onboard the aircraft (whichever is higher) test positive on arrival. The period of route suspension has also been reduced from 7 to 5 days.
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On 1st April 2022, Hong Kong lifted its ban on incoming passenger flights from 9 countries including India, the United States and the United Kingdom. The government states that although there has been an increase in the daily number of inbound arrivals since the start of April (from a daily average of fewer than 300 between January and March, to around 1,200 since 1st April), “the proportion of imported cases has actually decreased rather than increased”, from about 3% to around 1% since the start of April.
Overseas non-residents have effectively been banned from entering Hong Kong since March 2020, but in a press release the government said:
Considering public health factors such as local epidemic development and capacity in tackling the local epidemic, and balancing the expectation from members of the public as well as the various sectors of the community to resume social and economic activities, the Steering Committee considers that there is room to suitably adjust relevant measures on the premise of maintaining the current measures guarding against the importation of cases and manageable risks.
Recently, the government of Singapore also announced that it is further relaxing entry requirements from 26th April by removing the requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to undertake a pre-departure test before arriving in the country.
More details on requirements for entry into Hong Kong can be seen at coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/inbound-travel.
What do you think of Hong Kong finally allowing non-residents to enter? Let me know in the comments section below.