The Hong Kong government announced today that New Zealand will be recategorised as a Group B, or medium-risk, country from November 17, meaning there will no longer be any places under the Group C, or low-risk, category according to Hong Kong’s three-tier categorisation of countries’ Covid-19 risk.

Under the new rules, arrivals from New Zealand will have to serve a minimum 14-day quarantine at a designated hotel. Previously, they were the last group that could undergo a seven-day quarantine period, given they were fully vaccinated, had a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their arrival, and had confirmed bookings at a designated quarantine hotel for a minimum of seven nights.

people line up outside a pharmacy in wellington new zealand for a vaccine
Covid-19 vaccine queue outside a New Zealand pharmacy (© Alan Tennyson, CC by 4.0)

The government has stated that the reason for New Zealand’s downgrade is the island country’s new policy of living with Covid-19 (with a focus on increasing vaccination rates) and their increasing number of confirmed cases. According to the New Zealand ministry of health, there has been an overall upward trend in Covid-19 infections since mid-August. There were 147 local cases reported in the last 24 hours compared to the 7-day average of 54 in mid-October (Google Statistics).

This move comes after the Hong Kong government confirmed that it would reopen borders with the mainland in June 2022 at the latest, which it has prioritized over easing international travel restrictions. This has coincided with most quarantine exemptions being scrapped, and the use of the LeaveHomeSafe app being made mandatory at more venues in Hong Kong.

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Header image credits: Biponacci, CC by 4.0

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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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