Hong Kong is set to lift coronavirus entry restrictions on flights originating in the UK and Ireland from Friday. A months-long travel and commercial flight ban has been in place after mutant strains of the Covid-19 virus were discovered in the British Isles.

Residents will now be allowed to return to the city: “[T]hese relevant persons would subject to the most stringent compulsory quarantine and testing arrangements upon arrival at Hong Kong,” the government announced in a press release on Tuesday.

A British Airways plane in the Hong Kong International Airport. File photo: Chris Sutton, via Flickr.

The new measure is dependent on there being no significant change to the region’s Covid-19 epidemic, the government said. Passengers from the UK and Ireland will also need to present negative Covid-19 test results obtained less than 72 hours prior to boarding, proof of a 21-day quarantine hotel booking, and remain in quarantine for that period.

They will also have to undergo at least three coronavirus tests while in quarantine and a fourth test 26 days after arrival.

Travel bans

Restrictions will continue for those who have stayed in India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Brazil, and South Africa.

“The Government will continue to closely monitor the situation, including the developments of the epidemic situation both globally and locally, vaccination progress, and changes in the volume of cross-boundary passenger traffic, and will further adjust the boarding and compulsory quarantine requirements for persons arriving at Hong Kong from places with different risks when necessary,” a spokesperson added.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s health chief said that the compulsory coronavirus quarantine period for fully vaccinated people may be reduced.

As of Tuesday, Hong Kong has reported 11,791 cases of Covid-19 in all, and 210 deaths.

Additional reporting: Selina Cheng.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.