Hong Kong’s citizens will be able to come back from 9 banned countries starting April 1, announced chief executive, Carrie Lam.
Fully vaccinated Hongkongers will be permitted to return from the US, Canada, the UK, France, Australia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines from April 1.
Thus far, inbound travelers had to spend at least 14 days in China or Macao to be permitted entry into Hong Kong.
Returning nationals must continue to provide evidence of a negative PCR test upon arrival in Hong Kong and undergo a mandatory 7-day hotel quarantine.
School classes will resume on April 19, while social restrictions such as gathering limits, the mandatory use of face coverings and restrictions on establishments operating hours will be eased in three stages starting April 20.
This new sort of non-zero-covid roadmap is open to further reviews, Lam said.
“People may be desensitized to Covid positive numbers,” she said. “I would urge the members of the public to be more patient with this timetable and roadmap. As long as the trend is coming down in four weeks’ time we should be able to resume normal life.”
Hong Kong’s policy shift comes as a growing number of Asian countries are opening their borders and easing, if not abolishing, travel restrictions.
According to a recent survey by the International Air Transport Association, half the top 50 markets are now open to vaccinated travelers, with no quarantine or testing required.
This only partially includes the 24 nations that have already removed all Covid-related travel and domestic restrictions.
The harsh reality is that Hong Kong residents are fleeing in droves due to the city’s long-standing draconian restrictions.
As per Reuters, a net of more than 54,000 people have left Hong Kong this month, up from 71,000 in February.
According to a respected polling agency, about a quarter of Hong Kong residents intend to leave the city permanently because of concerns about the lack of personal liberties and the deteriorating political climate.
In a survey of 6,723 Hong Kong residents conducted by the Hong Kong Opinion Research Institute (PORI) from March 21-24, twenty-four percent of respondents said they will definitely emigrate.
Meanwhile, another 21 percent said they were either preparing to or planning to but were not yet ready to emigrate.