The Hong Kong government announced that starting June 1, certain pre-departure testing requirements will be relaxed for overseas arrivals. In addition, international travellers who complete seven days of their mandatory isolation period at their Designated Quarantine Hotel (DQH) and check out from there must undergo an additional post-quarantine PCR test on Day 9 after their arrival in Hong Kong.
Documentary proof of negative PCR test results for inbound travellers and new suspension criteria for route-specific flight bans
Starting June 1, passengers who travel into Hong Kong will no longer need to provide proof that the laboratory where they conducted their pre-departure PCR test has ISO 15189 accreditation or recognition. They still have to get a negative test result within 48 hours of their arrival into Hong Kong and undergo a PCR and rapid antigen test (RAT) when they arrive at the Hong Kong International Airport before they go to their DQH.
Currently, certain flights into Hong Kong can be banned for five days if a specified number of passengers test positive for Covid-19 upon arrival into the city or if passengers do not have the required documentary proof to enter the SAR.
Starting June 1, if an airline violates these regulations, the flight will not be banned in the first instance. Instead, the airline will be issued a warning and a penalty of $20,000. However, if the airline brings a certain number of Covid-positive passengers from the same point of origin into Hong Kong within 10 days of their first violation, the flight will be banned for five days.
Pre-departure tests for passengers who contracted Covid-19 outside Hong Kong
From June 1, international arrivals who contracted Covid-19 outside Hong Kong must have the following documents before they board a flight for the city:
- A certificate issued by a medical practitioner or a recovery record from relevant authorities in Chinese or English showing that the person had Covid-19 14-90 days before their departure to Hong Kong and has recovered.
- A test report in Chinese or English issued by a laboratory or healthcare institution stating that the passenger underwent a RAT within 24 hours of their departure to Hong Kong and tested negative for the virus.
- Written confirmation in Chinese or English issued by the laboratory or healthcare institution if the test report is not in Chinese or English or does not contain all the above information.
The name on all these documents must match the name on the travel document passengers use to enter Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, the government announced that international arrivals who contracted Covid-19 outside Hong Kong within the past three months and who test positive for the virus upon arrival in the city may be allowed to stay at their DQH instead of being transferred to a Community Isolation Facility (CIF).
New Day 9 post-arrival test and pre-departure tests scrapped for some passengers
Inbound travellers must take a post-discharge PCR test on Day 9 after their arrival in Hong Kong besides the one they have to do on Day 12. This will only apply to passengers who:
- Arrive in the SAR on or after May 24
- Test negative for Covid-19 on their daily RATs and Day 5 PCR test, and
- Leave their DQH on Day 7 after they enter the city
This Day 9 PCR test requirement will not apply to overseas passengers who choose to stay at a DQH for 14 days. They must continue to test negative on their Day 5 and Day 12 PCR tests and their daily RATs before they leave their hotels.
From June 1, children under three years old will no longer have to undergo a pre-departure PCR test before they enter Hong Kong. However, they will still need to get tested after they arrive in the city using stool samples. In addition, passengers who transit or transfer through Hong Kong do not need to provide proof of a negative PCR test result before they board their flight from June 1.
These developments come after the authorities added more DQHs for inbound travellers and after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stated that border control measures such as mandatory hotel quarantine, vaccination requirements and Covid-19 testing will continue to be in force till the end of June 2022 at the earliest.
Image header credits: Sabrina Bracher via Canva