On August 8, 2022, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu announced that the government will introduce a new two-colour health code for local Covid-19 patients and international arrivals under medical surveillance. The new code was implemented on August 9, combined with the LeaveHomeSafe app to regulate the activities of these groups of people so that they do not enter “high-risk places” in the city where they could transmit the virus.
How does the Hong Kong health code work?
The health code will be combined with the vaccine pass system on the LeaveHomeSafe app (version 3.4.0 or above). This is separate from the existing red-and-blue code used to check whether a user has received their Covid-19 vaccinations as stipulated by the government. Users will get the following codes based on their travel and health status:
- Red: This is for patients who contract the virus in Hong Kong and who are at community isolation facilities and who have been approved for home quarantine. Those under home isolation must also wear an electronic tracking wristband to ensure they do not leave their homes during their quarantine period. Their red code will turn into a blue vaccine pass QR code once they complete their recovery period. Starting September 26, this code will also be issued to international travellers who test positive on their on-arrival PCR test at the Hong Kong International Airport.
- Amber: Travellers will get a yellow code once they begin their four-day medical surveillance period, which will prevent them from going to areas where they could transmit the virus to large groups of people. From September 26, their medical surveillance period will be reduced to three days. If they test negative for Covid-19 on Day 2 after they arrive in the city, their vaccine pass QR code will turn blue on Day 3 and they can move around the city without restrictions.
People who have received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine can complete their isolation when they get negative rapid antigen test (RAT) results on both Days 6 and Day 7 (or two consecutive days thereafter) after they declared their positive results on the government website. Those who have not been vaccinated or have only received one dose of a vaccine against the virus must isolate for 14 days.
There is no amber code for close contacts of local patients, as previously reported.
Which premises are covered by the Hong Kong health code?
People who get a red code cannot enter any venues covered by the vaccine pass. Those issued an amber code will not be allowed to enter places where there is “active checking of the vaccine pass… and cannot participate in activities where masks are to be taken off,” said Lee. Therefore, these users are barred from places where they must scan the LeaveHomeSafe app upon entry, such as:
- Hair salons or barber shops
- Religious establishments
- Amusement game centres
- Fitness centres
- Amusement centres
- Places of public entertainment
- Party rooms
- Beauty parlours
- Club houses
- Nightclubs, bars and pubs
- Karaoke establishments
- Mahjong-tin kau premises
- Massage establishments
- Sports premises
- Swimming pools
- Cruise ships
- Temporary event venues
However, staff members of these establishments who get an amber code may enter these premises for work if their employers permit it.
In addition, users with amber codes are prohibited from entering premises frequented by people who may be more susceptible to contracting the virus, such as:
- Elderly homes
- Homes for disabled persons
- Designated medical premises
Students and teaching staff who hold red codes cannot enter school premises, while those with amber codes may enter if they test negative for Covid-19 on a RAT. Students with amber codes cannot take part in mask-off activities and must sit in designated areas during meal times. Amber-code users who need to get medical attention at designated healthcare premises may also enter these premises. However, they cannot accompany friends or relatives to these healthcare venues.
Which premises can international travellers with yellow codes visit?
International arrivals who get an amber code can enter premises where the scanning of the LeaveHomeSafe is not actively enforced, such as:
- Places of work
- Shopping malls
- Wet markets
- Business-to-business (B2B) conventions and exhibitions
They can use public transport to enter these places if they test negative on RATs during the four-day home isolation period.
Header image credits: WFtowemH Marsihar via WikiCommons