On April 22, the Hong Kong government further eased restrictions on inbound international travellers by announcing that non-residents will be allowed to enter the city starting May 1. The authorities also revealed that it will reduce the route-specific flight ban to five days and allow inbound travellers to await their on-arrival PCR test results at their designated quarantine hotels (DQHs).
Non residents and tourists allowed to fly to Hong Kong
From May 1, non-Hong Kong residents can enter the SAR under the same conditions as residents who return to the city. This means that they must:
- Be fully vaccinated.
- Have a confirmed booking at a DQH for 7 days.
- Produce a negative PCR test result within 48 hours of their departure to Hong Kong.
- Undergo a PCR test upon arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport.
- Use designated transportation to get to their DQH.
- Undergo rapid antigen tests (RATs) daily for Covid-19 and PCR tests on Days 5 and 12 after their arrival into Hong Kong.
This is the first time since March 2020 that non-residents will be allowed to enter Hong Kong. Non-residents from low- and medium-risk countries were allowed to enter the city until late January 2022, but have been barred since then due to the surge in Covid-19 infections caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus.
Flight ban reduced to 5 days
There is now a change in criteria for suspending flights that bring a certain number of passengers who test positive for Covid-19 into Hong Kong. Starting May 1, incoming flights from certain routes will be banned for five days if:
- Five or more passengers or 5% or more of the total number of passengers on the same flight (whichever is higher) test positive for the virus upon arrival.
- Three or more passengers test positive for Covid-19 upon arrival and one or more passengers do not have the correct documentation to enter the SAR.
Currently, the incoming flights from certain routes are banned for seven days if one flight carries three or more Covid-positive travellers, or if at least one passenger tests positive for the virus upon arrival and one or more passengers do not have the requisite paperwork to enter the city.
Incoming arrivals can wait for their PCR results at their quarantine hotels
Starting May 9, inbound passengers do not have to wait for their post-arrival PCR test results before being transferred to their DQH. Instead, they will undergo a PCR and RAT test when they arrive at the airport. If their RAT is negative, they can go to their DQH to wait the results of their PCR test. If their RAT is positive, they will be sent to an isolation facility depending on the severity of their symptoms.
The latest measures come after Hong Kong entered the first phase of easing its social distancing restrictions on April 21. In March 2022, the government lifted its nine-country flight ban and reduced its mandatory hotel quarantine requirement for international arrivals from 14 days to a minimum of seven days.
Image credits: Tanukiphoto via Canva