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Hong Kong to phase in shorter quarantine

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HONG KONG, 23 June 2021: The Hong Kong Government confirmed on Monday that fully vaccinated travellers who also test positive for antibodies could undergo a seven-day quarantine down from the standard 21 days.

The arrangement will start with Hong Kong residents returning home effective 30 June. It will extend to “relevant non-Hong Kong residents”, possibly in mid-July when antibody testing equipment completes trials at the airport.

The restriction will be relaxed for fully vaccinated non-Hong Kong residents who have not stayed in extremely high-risk (Group A1) or very high-risk (Group A2) places. 

Under the new measures, people arriving in Hong Kong who have only stayed in Group B or Group C specified places or Taiwan on the day of arrival or the 14 days before that day will be eligible for the shortened compulsory quarantine period of seven days at designated quarantine hotels.

They need to fulfil conditions:

  • Fully vaccinated with a vaccination record.
  • Obtain a negative nucleic acid test result during the test-and-hold period upon arrival.
  • Demonstrate positive proof antibodies through a recognised serology antibody test conducted within the past three months.
  • They are required to take two nucleic acid tests during the quarantine period, followed by a seven-day self-monitoring period and compulsory testing on days 12, 16 and 19 days from the date of arrival.

The same requirements apply to both Hong Kong residents and foreigners arriving in the territory.

At a press conference on Monday to announce the changes, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she believed business travellers would welcome the new arrangements. She appealed to the hotels in the city to be more flexible in handling the room bookings.

“If a passenger is willing to take a Covid-19 antibody test and the antibody test is positive – which means that he or she has antibodies – then the mandatory quarantine period at the designated hotel should be reduced from 14 days to seven days.

“I believe this will be much welcomed by a lot of business travellers coming to Hong Kong. In order for that fully vaccinated passenger to take an antibody test in Hong Kong, inevitably, he or she would have to stay in a hotel for a while, while waiting for the antibody test.

“So that would mean that that passenger has to book on the basis of staying in a hotel for a longer period of quarantine – say 14 days.

She cited an example that if a traveller was advised – maybe on the second or third day – that the antibody test was positive, then they should be able to leave the designated hotel a week earlier.

“I would very much appeal to the Hong Kong hotels that they should allow that flexibility for the passengers, instead of charging them for the full 14 days.

“I have already asked the Commissioner for Tourism to start these negotiations with the hotel sector.”

The first phase will launch on 30 June. The government intends to implement the second-phase arrangements within July to provide a self-paid serology antibody testing service for inbound travellers at the airport. Entry by relevant non-Hong Kong residents will be relaxed then.

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