All incoming travellers entering Hong Kong from overseas are set to undergo mandatory quarantine at hotels amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but eligible arrivals from Guangdong or Macau may be exempted.

From Friday onward, all travellers – except those arriving from China – will be required to present a hotel room reservation for a period of no less than 14 days. They also need to obtain a nucleic test report to prove that they tested negative for the virus 72 hours or less before boarding the plane to Hong Kong. This rule currently applies only to travellers from 14 high-risk countries.

sophia chan
Sophia Chan. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told reporters on Wednesday that the measure is to avoid potential transmission towards those who stay in the same residence during home quarantine.

Travellers from Guangdong province or Macau, however, can apply for an exemption from quarantine under daily quotas of 3,000 for those arriving through the Shenzhen Bay Port and 2,000 through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

From November 23 onward applicants, who must be over 18, can sign up for themselves and up to three fellow-travellers. They must apply on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday for trips to take place in the week after.

They also need to present negative test results for the virus from organisations recognised by the three governments. In the format of “health codes,” the data will be forwarded to the Department of Health of Hong Kong.

Those entering Guangdong province or Macau from Hong Kong are still subject to 14-day quarantine. Tours are not included in the exemption scheme. People who have travelled to other regions of China within 14 days before heading back to Hong Kong will not be eligible.

Singapore travel bubble

Meanwhile the first designated flight for Hong Kong’s air travel bubble with Singapore will take off on November 22, offering 200 seats. The scheme may pause for two weeks if more than five untraceable Covid-19 cases are recorded in either city. Flights will be upped to two each day from December 7 onward.

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Travellers similarly should present negative nucleic test results conducted by organisations recognised by the governments 72 hours before departure. Singapore also requires travellers to download the mobile application “TraceTogether” to chart their itinerary during the trip.

Another tracing app “Leave Home Safe,” developed by the Hong Kong government, will be launched next Monday for citizens to voluntarily record places they have been. Notifications will be sent to users if there are confirmed infections at locations they have recently visited.

Coronavirus virus covid-19 mask
Photo: GovHK.

Hong Kong has recorded 4,390 infections and 108 deaths since the outbreak in January. Chan said the pandemic in the city is subsiding but there are infection clusters due to social gatherings, and upticks are expected as winter is the peak season for flu of all kinds.

Following a cluster of infections traced to a staycation group at a hotel in Mui Wo, she said the government would not rule out the possibility of regulating hotels and similar premises in the future.

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Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.