Update from March 21: Flight ban will be lifted and quarantine reduced to 7 days from April 1.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced yesterday, January 27, that inbound travellers from high-risk countries will have their mandatory hotel quarantine period shortened to 14 days, starting February 5.

Updated entry and quarantine rules

In a press release published yesterday evening, the government also announced that, also effective February 5, all overseas places will be specified as Group A specified places. This also means that the ‘Enhanced Quarantine & Surveillance Measures on Omicron Variant’ category, or Group A+, which applied to certain African nations, the UK, and the US, will no longer exist. In other words, all places outside Hong Kong other than China will be subject to the entry rules of Group A.

During the 14-day quarantine, 6 tests will be conducted. The quarantine is followed by seven days of self-monitoring, during which they must get tested twice for Covid-19. The decision was made because “Omicron’s incubation period is relatively short” said Lam, referring to the Covid-19 variant of concern that accounts for most of Hong Kong’s local and imported cases.

Currently, vaccinated Hong Kong residents from 147 countries under the Group A, or high-risk, category according to Hong Kong’s three-tier categorisation of countries’ Covid-19 risk have to spend 21 days at a designated quarantine hotel (DHQ). Those arriving from 15 other countries deemed to require enhanced quarantine and surveillance have to spend the first four days after their arrival in Hong Kong at Penny’s Bay and then isolate at a DHQ.

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The last time Hong Kong’s quarantine requirements for international arrivals were eased was in August 2021, when Hong Kong-bound travellers from Group B, or medium-risk countries, could have their 21-day mandatory hotel stay shortened to 14 days provided they were fully vaccinated and produced a positive serology antibody test result. More recently, the authorities announced that close contacts of local cases can now isolate at quarantine centres for 14 days instead of 21 days.

The flight ban on eight countries — Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States — is extended until February 18.

Social distancing measures and school suspension extended

However, the government will maintain the current social distancing measures until February 17. This means that dining at restaurants after 6pm is prohibited and certain premises such as cinemas, bars and beauty parlours will remain closed.

All schools, kindergartens and primary schools as well as secondary schools, will also remain closed until February 21, well past the initial reopening date of February 7. The move applies to primary and secondary schools, daycare centres and tuition schools.

Update from March 21: Flight ban will be lifted and quarantine reduced to 7 days from April 1.

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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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