Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development has defended the government’s decision to exempt a Hollywood star and three other crew members from serving mandatory quarantine, saying actor Nicole Kidman’s trip to a Central shopping boutique may have been a part of a “costume fitting.”

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau. Photo: Screenshot via Youtube.

“I have personally checked, there are certain itinerary [that are] part of the costume fitting… If that fits in with the pre-notified itinerary, there is no reason that we should not disallow them,” Secretary Edward Yau told Bloomberg in an interview on Monday.

Kidman had drawn controversy after being spotted shopping in Central two days after she landed. It is despite the authorities saying the quarantine exemption was granted under strict conditions that would keep the team away from local citizens.

Last Thursday, the government had said its decision to exempt the actor from mandatory quarantine was “for the purpose of performing designated professional work, taking into account that it is conducive to maintaining the necessary operation and development of Hong Kong’s economy.”

Photo: Wikicommons and Little Brown Group.

“Our job is to make sure we have good connection with the wider world, provided that such exemptions are being made in good faith and also with sufficient safeguards,” Yau said on Monday.

The exemption has drawn fierce criticism from internet users and the city’s lawmakers and came as the city announced tighter restrictions in a bid to curb the outbreak of the more infectious Delta variant. Kidman is in town to shoot an Amazon Prime Series called Expats.

The actor had arrived via private jet from Sydney, which is currently struggling with an outbreak of the Delta variant.