HONG KONG – The city’s government has reduced the Covid-19 quarantine period for inbound travelers to three days, with further steps to streamline strict border controls, but not in line with what companies say is needed to maintain its reputation as the leading Asia’s global financial center.
Travelers arriving in Hong Kong will be allowed to leave their designated quarantine hotels after three days from Friday, instead of seven now, officials said in a briefing Monday morning. During that time, they will not be allowed in places where a vaccine pass is now required, such as gyms, bars and restaurants, they said.
The city’s reputation has been dented in recent months, caught between adhering to strict antivirus controls in line with Beijing’s “zero covid policy” and trying to maintain its appeal as an open and globally connected base for businesses. As most of the world returns to normal, Hong Kong’s border controls and perceived risk of resorting to lockdowns and other measures in the mainland have fueled public frustration and prompted many skilled workers to leave.
While any cut in quarantine time may be better than none, Hong Kong’s competitive advantage as a regional base for businesses and an international financial center, or IFC, is being eroded as longer restrictions remain in place, business groups said.
“The ability to travel freely internationally is a basic requirement for an IFC,” said Sally Wong, chief executive of the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association, before the announcement. “Only by completely ditching the word ‘quarantine’ can we really rebuild the HK Inc. brand.”
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