The Hong Kong government made changes to its ‘A+ category‘ for inbound travellers which will come into effect today, December 21, over concerns of the global spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant. All arrivals from ‘Group A+’ countries must quarantine for four days instead of seven at Penny’s Bay, and then finish the remaining 17 days at a designated quarantine hotel (DHQ).

The given reasoning behind this shortened stay at the government facility is that, so far, all imported Omicron cases have been detected in the airport arrival test or within the first three days of testing.

Arrivals from ‘A+’ countries will continue to be tested every day for the virus during their first seven days in Hong Kong, both at Penny’s Bay and their DHQ. They will then undergo mandatory testing every alternate day from the ninth day of their isolation period.

No changes have been made to the rules outlined for Group A arrivals, who still need to quarantine for 21 days in a designated hotel.

The UK will also be moved from Group A to the ‘Group A+’ list, starting December 21. This development means that arrivals from the UK can no longer spend all 21 days of their mandatory isolation period at a DHQ. Non-residents coming from Group A places continue to be barred from entering Hong Kong.

There are now 14 countries on the ‘A+’ list: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, the UK, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the US.

The government simultaneously announced more stringent measures in its efforts to prevent a local spread of the Omicron variant. Inbound travellers must now produce a negative Covid-19 test result obtained within 48 hours of their departure, as opposed to the previous 72-hour requirement. In addition, any route of an airline’s flights into Hong Kong will immediately be suspended for 14 days if, within seven days, four or more passengers from the same route test positive for the virus after arriving.

Header image credits: Kitabc12345, CC0 1.0

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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