Migrant domestic workers arriving in Hong Kong who have completed three days of hotel quarantine can begin working at their employers’ home during the four-day “medical surveillance” period, the Labour Department said on Wednesday.

The reduction of the hotel quarantine period for international arrivals, one of the city’s measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19, was announced on Monday.

Hong Kong domestics helper gathering in central on Sunday May 31, 2020. File Photo: May James/HKFP.

Employers can also arrange for domestic workers to stay at a non-quarantine hotel for the four-day period without applying to the Labour Department. Foreign domestic workers are legally required to live with their employers in Hong Kong.

Under the “3+4” arrangement, arrivals have to undergo five polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in a 10-day period: on the day of their arrival, as well as on the second, fourth, sixth and ninth days. Incoming travellers will also have to take daily rapid antigen tests (RAT) during the period.

While the shorter quarantine requirement will officially launch on Friday, travellers who have already completed at least three days of quarantine were allowed to leave their hotels early.

The government also launched a health code scheme through its contact tracing mobile application LeaveHomeSafe. Recent arrivals will be issued with an amber code for their first seven days in the city, barring from entering premises including restaurants and bars.

However, if they test negative using RATs, people under medical surveillance will be allowed to go to places including shopping malls, and take public transport.

Hong Kong has recorded 1,397,920 Covid-19 infections and 9,554 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.

Mobile application update needed

The government has received around 300 queries since the launch of the red and yellow code scheme, including a case of someone reporting that the colour of their vaccine pass was inaccurate, Tony Wong, deputy government chief information officer, said on Commercial Radio on Wednesday.

Hong Kong will implement yellow codes on arrivals to restrict their access to certain businesses when they return home after hotel quarantine. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

When asked about reports of a traveller who was allowed to leave quarantine this week whose amber code turned blue when they tried to enter a restaurant, essentially allowing them into the premises, Wong said there might have been internet issues.

“I think that citizen might have to contact us via our hotline,” Wong said. “As I am not sure whether the vaccine pass scanner of the restaurant had been updated, or if the phone had internet access, as the scanner has to have internet access, on top of being updated to the latest version… to be able to match the QR code from the cloud server.”

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.