Hong Kong has shortened its quarantine period from 21 days to 14 for vaccinated travellers from the United Kingdom, although unjabbed arrivals will still face a three-week compulsory stay in hotel isolation.

The change will come into effect on Friday after the UK was moved from “Group A2” to “Group B” in Hong Kong’s system, which categorises countries depending on the severity of their Covid-19 pandemic.

coronavirus virus Hong Kong International Airport
File Photo: GovHK.

Inbound travellers from the UK previously had to quarantine for 21 days at a hotel regardless of their vaccination status. Under the new measure, fully vaccinated travellers will upon arrival be asked to show proof of vaccination, a negative nucleic acid test result and proof of hotel reservation.

They will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine at a designated hotel and test for the virus three times during the period. After the end of quarantine, they will be required to self-monitor for seven days and test again on the 16th and 19th day after arrival.

People will be considered fully vaccinated at least 14 days after they have completed all required dosages of a vaccine recognised by Hong Kong, which includes those manufactured by AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, Sinopharm and the Serum Institute of India, amongst others.

Unvaccinated travellers from the UK will have to undergo 21 days of quarantine. They will also have to show a negative virus test result and proof of hotel booking.

Hong Kong’s quarantine requirements are among the world’s toughest even though it has had relatively few infections. But the financial centre has begun granting quarantine exemptions to some top bankers and other financial executives, saying this is necessary to safeguard the economy.

The Insurance Authority, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Securities and Futures Commission are allowed to grant exemptions to a few senior executives or directors of entities they regulate.

Quarantine exemption for finance executives

Companies may designate two returning senior executives and two visiting executives per month to be exempt from quarantine if their travels are for the purpose of managing the business.

bank of china lippo building
Bank of China and Lippo Building. Photo: Bernard Spragg via Flickr

The companies will have to provide identification documents, proof of vaccination and the itinerary of the executives five working days prior to their arrival.

“The time has come for us to consider the revival of Hong Kong’s economy,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday. It’s not a “free-for-all” situation, Lam said, as the executives will have to comply with the conditions of their exemption.

The executives will be required to self-isolate at accommodation sponsored by their companies. The companies will have to ensure that the executives only attend activities listed in their itineraries that exclude meals and social activities.

carrie lam
Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

A responsible officer or compliance executive at the company concerned will have to sign an attestation certifying the executives’ compliance every three days during their stay.

Hong Kong, a city of 7.5 million, had as of Tuesday recorded 11,842 coronavirus cases and 210 deaths since the pandemic started.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.