JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was allowed to bypass Hong Kong’s tough quarantine rules because he runs a “very big bank” which is important to the city’s interests, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, after her government had cancelled most quarantine exemptions for top business people, diplomats and others.

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Wikimedia commons.

“It is a very big bank and he has very important business in Hong Kong,” Lam told reporters on Tuesday. “He needed to come and work for about a day in Hong Kong. But there are restrictions, including restrictions over his itinerary, so the risk is completely manageable.”

Lightning visit

Dimon flew to Hong Kong on a private jet on Monday and was exempted from up to three weeks of hotel quarantine, the Financial Times reported. The executive – who said Hong Kong’s tough quarantine rules made it hard to retain talent – would be staying for about 32 hours on a visit intended to thank staff at the bank’s Asia-Pacific headquarters, the newspaper said.

Dimon was allowed to skip quarantine as an individual under the Cap. 599E ordinance, Lam said, and not as a member of groups that would have previously qualified for the privilege. The latter types of exemption were scrapped on November 12.

Organisations representing foreign business say the quarantine rules — some of the world’s toughest – are eroding Hong Kong’s status as a world financial centre.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam meeting the press on November 16, 2021. Photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP.

Hong Kong has cancelled quarantine exemptions for groups including top bankers and most diplomats as it seeks to tighten rules to satisfy mainland China before a border reopening. But individuals or groups may still seek exemption from the city’s chief secretary.

The city’s second in command may designate any person or category of persons as exempt from quarantine for a variety of reasons, Cap. 599E stipulates, such as whether their travel is necessary for purposes including business activities which promote economic development.

Selina Cheng

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.