Hong Kong drops Covid-19 curbs for arrivals, scraps health app, loosens measures

Opening up.

Belmont Lay | December 14, 2022, 05:59 PM

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Hong Kong has scrapped its Covid-19 app and the ban on arrivals visiting bars and restaurants within three days of arrival, after nearly three years of curbs, Reuters reported.

The announcement on Dec. 13 came after authorities in mainland China shut down an app for tracking domestic travel as Beijing moves away from its harsh “zero Covid” strategy.

Arrivals in Hong Kong from Wednesday, Dec. 14, will no longer receive an “amber” code barring them from some venues, the city's chief executive John Lee said, after considering the latest data and risks.

“The infection risk from imported cases is lower than the risk from local infections,” Lee said.

The news of a further loosening of Covid-19 curbs in the global financial hub is set to boost resumption of travel and business.

The amber code had limited access to bars and restaurants.

The rules have weighed on Hong Kong’s economy since early 2020.

Hong Kong’s tough pandemic restrictions have inflicted huge damage on the economy, which is heavily dependent on travel and trade.

The tough measures have decimated the tourism industry even though Hong Kong ended two-and-a-half years of mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals in September.

The curbs have lasted far longer than elsewhere.

Visitors have yet to return to the city in large numbers with daily arrivals currently hovering around 20,000 people, most of them Hong Kong residents.

This was compared with about 350,000 in November 2019.

Hong Kong still maintains the strictest pandemic rules outside mainland China, including mandatory face masks outside, multiple tests for arrivals, and a ban on gatherings of more than 12 people.

Top photo via Unsplash