Hong Kong relaxes Covid quarantine regulations for tourists from mainland China

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Hong Kong Political Update

When Hong Kong severely relaxed its strict Covid-19 entry requirements for tourists for the first time, Hong Kong will allow people from mainland China to visit without facing quarantine procedures.

However, critics of the quarantine policy that the Hong Kong government will implement on September 15 said that this is another sign that the Asian financial center prioritizes the travel bubble with mainland China, rather than to executives living in the city. It’s very important for international connections.

The city’s leader, Carrie Lam, said that according to the plan, up to 2,000 non-Hong Kong residents from the mainland and Macau will be allowed to enter the area every day without being quarantined. However, tourists will still be quarantined in hotels after returning to mainland China.

Companies welcomed the move, but financial executives said they are still waiting for a broader reopening plan in which Beijing will exempt each other from quarantine requirements.

Share prices of retailers such as jewellers and beauty brands rose on Tuesday, hoping that the relaxation of quarantine regulations will boost the local economy.

Mainland tourists have historically accounted for most of Hong Kong’s tourism. After the news, the share price of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, controlled by the late billionaire Zheng Yutong’s family, rose 4%.

Hong Kong has been successful in containing the coronavirus, with only 212 deaths, but its strict quarantine policy has led to Angry international business, They believe that these rules are undermining the city’s status as a financial center.

A Wall Street banking executive said that mainland China is the most popular destination for Hong Kong employees, so opening up business travel would be a “huge step”, but they hope to expand it to allow bankers to travel to China without isolation.

“We are all in favor of letting things change between Hong Kong and the mainland again, but this policy seems very one-sided,” the executive said.

Hong Kong is pursuing a zero new crown virus policy, which is in line with the requirements of its largest trading partner, Mainland China, which has not yet responded to significantly relax travel restrictions on Hong Kong.

To meet China’s requirements, Hong Kong has banned most international non-residents from entering the country and forced residents from multiple countries to be quarantined for two to three weeks. Hotel quarantine.

“We are adopting a security strategy in which we are talking about the complete… open border or economy,” said Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau Director Yau Tenghua.

At the end of last month, due to a U-turn in the plan to relax international travel restrictions, criticism of the government increased.

The European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (EuroCham) warned that the quarantine policy could deprive the city of its competitive advantage in attracting top talent and warned that people have “leaved forever.”

“The announced relaxation is a positive signal for Hong Kong as a whole because it will allow more tourists to come to Hong Kong. However, this has not changed our position,” said Frederik Gollob, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce.

The Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association, which has previously relied on Hong Kong as an international event and conference center, said on Monday that 45% of its members may be closed within 12 months without subsidies and relaxing the roadmap for compulsory quarantine for business travelers.

A senior financial officer in Hong Kong told the Financial Times that the quarantine measures are causing “irrefutable damage” to Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial center.

Global banks in Hong Kong have been able to apply for a specific plan to avoid the long-term isolation of their executives in the city. However, according to official data, 246 of the 325 applications under the program were rejected or withdrawn.

Another plan that allows 5,000 Hong Kong residents to return from the mainland without quarantine per day was suspended due to the outbreak in China, but will be restarted on Wednesday.

The vaccination rate in Hong Kong is slowing, and only 54% of the population is fully vaccinated against the new coronavirus.

Additional report by William Langley in Hong Kong

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