According to the official announcement from the Hong Kong government’s press on Friday, September 23 (HKT), travelers arriving in Hong Kong from international regions will no longer be required to undergo compulsory quarantine. Starting on Monday, September 26th, self-monitoring protocols and frequent Covid-19 testing after arrival will replace quarantine as the new methods to further control Hong Kong’s Covid-19 transmission.
Compared to the previous “3+4” international travel quarantine requirement, this incoming new policy “0+3” brings an end to the three-day compulsory quarantine in Designated Hotels for Quarantine (DQHs). After receiving a nucleic acid Covid-19 test at Hong Kong International Airport, non-resident travelers (including travelers from mainland China and Taiwan) can use any public transport to go to their staying places. At the same time, Hong Kong residents can head straight home. All travelers will not be required to wait for the test result to enter Hong Kong.
Moreover, the original four-day medical surveillance period will be shortened to three days after Monday. During this period, people are free to go out but carry a yellow Amber Code on their phones to restrict them from entering certain public places. Followed by a four-day self-monitoring period after the medical surveillance, the total observation period for travelers is cut to seven days in total.
The new travel quarantine policy will make international travel more convenient for overseas people and residents, helping Hong Kong further reboot its economy and international communication. As governmental official John Lee said, “…we want to balance the need for controlling the epidemic with society’s needs, economic needs, and also the need to raise Hong Kong’s competitiveness.”
At the same time, travelers’ self-monitoring and the necessary Covid-19 testing will act as the two critical protocols after the lift of compulsory quarantine. Firstly, the declaration of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) is still required for all travelers before boarding. Compared to nucleic acid tests done by professional medical testing centers, travelers could acquire a RAT result much easier by purchasing and using self-test kits before their flights.
Furthermore, as part of the self-monitoring protocols, daily RAT test results are also required after the flight during the seven-day observation period. Meanwhile, incoming travelers need to have a nucleic acid test every two days in designated testing centers scattered throughout Hong Kong during the observation period.
Lastly, due to the yellow Amber Code restrictions, travelers have limited available public places they can enter amid the three-day medical surveillance. These places include restaurants, bars, schools, and indoor places where mask requirement is not mandatory.
Despite canceling compulsory quarantine, Hong Kong has not entirely loosened up its control of the epidemic. For passengers about to enter Hong Kong, the time consumed for Covid-19 prevention has been shortened, but the protocols of self-testing and nucleic acid testing still exist. To a certain degree, these softened measures will ease the burden of international travel for people going to Hong Kong for various matters after the end of September.
Cover photo source: Nikkei Asia
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