How to navigate Hong Kong’s new travel restrictions and how business travel could return to the SAR

Hong Kong’s new travel restrictions would see government streamline overseas places from a five to a three-tier system, possibly facilitating the return of Hong Kong residents from high-risk areas.

Hong Kong has announced new travel restrictions for inbound vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers effective 9 August 2021. Hong Kong’s new travel restrictions would see government streamline overseas places from a five to a three-tier system that could allow some Hong Kong residents stranded overseas to return to the SAR as well as business and leisure travel to resume to the territory although with some strict protocols in place.

Hong Kong’s new travel  COVID-19 restrictions would see the government streamline overseas places into three groups; high-risk, medium-risk, and low-risk.

These new restrictions are meant to encourage vaccine uptake in the SAR while maintaining its zero-COVID stance on infections. Hong Kong currently has 44% of the first doses of the vaccine administered in the city with a streak of 57 days of no new local infections. The announcement on travel came at the same time as the city compelled civil servants, government employees and health care workers to get vaccinated or foot the bill of regular testing on their own.

What do the new restrictions mean to travel to the SAR?

The re-categorisation from a five to three-tier system would take into account a variety of factors including, “public health considerations (such as the epidemic situation in particular places, testing rate, vaccination rate, the volume of travellers and actual imported cases), as well as other local socio-economic factors,” a press release read.

According to Hong Kong’s new travel restrictions previously listed as separate categories,groups A1(extremely high-risk) and A2 (very high-risk) would now merge into group A (high risk) as a result of the new policies. This could help facilitate the return of Hong Kong residents fromBrazil, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Effective 9 August 2021, those returning from group A destinations are required to provide vaccination proof by a World Health Organisation stringent regulatory authority, a negative PCR test conducted 72 hours before departure, and undergo 21 days of mandatory hotel quarantine. For those that don’t meet the vaccination regulations, a 21-day washout period would still apply.

Hong Kong’s new travel restrictions also laid out rules for incoming travellers from Group B countries (anywhere outside of China and Group C), the new policies will allow residents and non-residents to enter the city with a negative PCR test and be able to quarantine for 14 days with vaccination proof. Moreover, the presentation of a positive serology antibody test conducted in the last three3 months by a laboratory recognised by the Hong Kong government could slash that quarantine period in half.

Group C policies apply to incoming travellers from Australia, New Zealand, Mainland China and Macao, where unvaccinated residents and non-residents need only undergo 14 days mandatory quarantine while vaccinated travellers are required to stay only seven nights in a hotel.

The provision of non-residents could incline some business and leisure travel to return to the city.

In the meantime, close attention will be paid to Singapore who hopes to allow quarantine travel to resume in September when 80% of the city-state’s population should be inoculated.

Photo / 123RF