Hong Kong will be scrapping its "amber" code that prevents travellers from entering bars or restaurants, Chief Executive John Lee said at a press conference on Tuesday (Dec. 13).
Previously, international travellers were not allowed to frequent such places and were monitored for three days via an app that assigned colour-coded health passes.
Some venues will still require patrons to show proof of vaccination before entry. It is not mentioned whether mask-wearing remains mandatory.
Will benefit the economy
Analysts welcomed the easing, as it would boost tourism and the Hong Kong economy.
“All people want to have less restrictions as much as possible, while ensuring activities socially and economically can proceed as much as possible,” Lee said, according to Bloomberg.
Research done by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority reported that inbound tourism contributes to 3.6 per cent of Hong Kong's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 5.8 per cent of total employment in 2018.
The pandemic, however, "virtually brought inbound tourism to a standstill". Unemployment also rose from 3.3 per cent in Jan. 2020 to 6.6 per cent in Dec. 2020, "the highest in close to 16 years".
With the curbs, Bloomberg reported that exports and tourism will boost Hong Kong's GDP by an estimated 7.6 per cent.
China also deactivated national Covid tracking app
Hong Kong's announcement comes shortly after China announced it will deactivate the national Covid tracking app.
Just last week, China began a nationwide loosening of Covid restrictions.
The ease was announced after civil protests against China's zero-Covid restriction, after a deadly building fire in China killed 10 people and injured nine others in Urumqi, Xinjiang.
The protests even spread to Hong Kong.
However, Financial Times reported that according to a delegation of Hong Kong public health experts, ease of restrictions and reopening has always been in the plan, even before zero-Covid protests.
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