Foreign participants at a high-profile financial summit in Hong Kong next month would be able to skip isolation and leave via “appropriate flight arrangements” if they catch Covid, a top health official said Friday.
The comments followed media reports that attendees — expected to include top executives from some of the world’s most powerful financial institutions — would be allowed to leave on private jets if they test positive for the coronavirus.
Hong Kong is aiming to reassert its position as a global financial hub with the summit, organised by the city’s central bank, after being effectively cut off because of its strict Covid policies — especially for international travellers.
If a summit participant tests positive for the coronavirus, “we will adopt the same isolation arrangements as with other inbound visitors,” Permanent Secretary for Health Thomas Chan told a press conference when asked if any rules would be relaxed for the event.
“But at the same time we will also provide facilitation should there be appropriate flight arrangements for leaving Hong Kong.”
Commercial airlines are restricted from transporting virus-positive passengers to and from Hong Kong.
Bloomberg News had reported Thursday that the Hong Kong government was considering allowing participants at the two-day summit to leave by private jet if they test positive.
Hong Kong has had a difficult three years, with a sweeping crackdown on political freedoms and the imposition of some of the world’s strictest coronavirus pandemic controls, which kept it isolated even as competitors such as Singapore reopened.
It scrapped mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers last month, as warnings grew that the financial hub was suffering brain drain and loss of business.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority expects to draw 200 participants to the event, including the heads of 30 major financial institutions including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
Some Covid restrictions, such as face masks, remain in Hong Kong.
Chief Executive John Lee has not yet outlined a roadmap for full reopening, and has said that the city must remain cautious while relaxing virus curbs.