Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has announced a lift on the flight ban from nine countries and is to reduce hotel quarantine in a planned “roadmap” for the country to work towards eased restrictions as a whole. 

Hong Kong has been following some of the world’s strictest border rules in reaction to the COVID pandemic, similar to Western Australia before the state re-opened earlier this year, with the enforcement of 21-day quarantines and barring non-citizens from entry into the country. 

Opening up the borders outside and within

Hong Kong has been operating under a zero-Covid policy, but from April 1, fully-vaccinated Hong Kong residents who have produced a negative PCR test will be freeboard flights to the UK, Australia, Canada, India, France, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United States of America. Travellers arriving in Hong Kong will have to undergo seven days of hotel quarantine, a reduction compared to the previous fourteen-day quarantine.

The “circuit breaker flight ban” was no longer necessary for the nine countries Hong Kong has now opened up to because the COVID numbers there are “no worse” than that in Hong Kong, according to Lam when speaking to media this Monday. 

Hong Kong Airlines
One of Hong Kong’s main airliners flies in and around Hong Kong, China, and to European destinations such as Brussels and Germany | © Wikimedia Commons

Lam also announced a relaxation in social restrictions for those living in Hong Kong. Personal gathering limits, mask-wearing, and business and venue operations will begin easing in three states from April 20. 

Schools within the region will resume face-to-face teaching from April 19. Plans for a controversial mandatory mass testing rollout for the entire city were also suspended. 

While the roadmap in place is subject to change depending on how the virus develops, Lam still stressed the importance of caution and gradual relaxation of the rules. 

“People may be desensitised to Covid positive numbers,” she said. “I would urge the members of the public to be more patient with this timetable and roadmap. As long as the trend is coming down in four weeks’ time we should be able to resume normal life.”

Will you be planning a trip to Hong Kong amid travel restrictions easing? Let us know what you think of air travel resuming in and out of the region. 

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