HONG KONG – The city government has reduced the Covid-19 quarantine period for incoming travelers to three days and put in place more measures to streamline strict border controls, but they fall short of what companies say are needed to restore its reputation as Asia’s leading global financial hub.
Officials announced at a briefing Monday morning that travelers arriving in Hong Kong will be allowed to leave their designated quarantine hotels after three days, instead of now seven, starting Friday. During that time, they said, they will not be allowed into places that now require a permit for a vaccine, such as gyms, bars and restaurants.
The city’s reputation has taken a hit in recent months, as it has been caught between sticking to strict anti-virus controls in line with Beijing’s “zero COVID” policy, and trying to maintain its appeal as an open and globally connected base of business. With most of the world returning to normal, Hong Kong’s border controls and perceived risks to mainland-style lockdowns and other measures have frustrated the public and prompted many skilled workers to leave.
Business groups said that while any reduction in quarantine time may be better than nothing, Hong Kong’s competitive advantage as a regional corporate base and international financial center, or IFC, is eroding as the restrictions persist longer.
“The ability to travel without restrictions internationally is a prerequisite for the IFC,” Sally Wong, chief executive of the Hong Kong Mutual Funds Association, said before the announcement. “Only by abandoning the word ‘quarantine’ entirely can we really rebuild the HK Inc. brand.”
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