Hong Kong Opens, Removes Nearly All Covid Restrictions

Hong Kong has had some of he world’s most extreme measures for foreign arrivals during the pandemic. Those are being mostly scrapped starting Wednesday.

There are still going to be two PCR tests for people arriving in Hong Kong, but those who test negative face basically no restrictions under new rules starting Wednesday, December 14 – no restrictions entering restaurants and other venues for those testing negative. Although vaccination is still required, and proof will be needed.

Even the region’s ‘Leave Home Safe’ app goes away for residents, and mandatory testing will be ‘reduced’ for residential buildings. PCR tests will still be required for hospital and nursing home staff, while antigen tests can be used elsewhere. And PCR tests are being eliminated for travel from Hong Kong to Macau and mainland China.

Data suggests incoming travelers are low risk:

Health minister Lo Chung-mau said separately data gathered in the past month showed a 3.8 per cent infection rate among imported cases, meaning 38 out of 1,000 incoming travellers were found with the virus upon arrival. Only 1.6 per cent of them were found to be infected later – lower than the 2.5 per cent local infection rate.

Travelers will take a PCR test at the airport and then on their third day in Hong Kong, followed by an antigen (rapid) test for five days.

Moreover, Covid-19 positives with mild symptoms are permitted to do 5 days of home isolation, rather than entering a government facility. But don’t show up with bad symptoms! Those still divert to government quarantine centers. And close contacts of positives still need 5 days of home isolation.

This is made possible by mainland China’s reducing restrictions. Hong Kong has turned towards China, and has emphasized the need for connectivity with mainland China rather than the rest of the world.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Compared to earlier restrictions this is better but still draconian. Hong Kong is a lost cause now.

  2. “…This is made possible by mainland China’s reducing restrictions.”

    I don’t think that is accurate. More likely, mainland China discovered that their citizens had reached their limit and were about to go scorched earth and burn the place to the ground.

  3. Their cases are higher because their vaccine never worked as well as ours did. You hear nothing on their vaccination drive anymore.

  4. Hong Kong and China have reached the limits of their own people and economies to sustain the covid insanity that they have held onto long after other countries recognized it is time to move on. While an improvement, there is still a lot of risk for tourists with other respiratory illnesses – most of them mild for most people – running throughout the world.

  5. There are a lot of places to visit in the world. Now that most do not require any testing upon arrival at all, I would not opt for Hong Kong unless I had a truly compelling need to be there.

    Hong Kong can wait,

  6. They didn’t remove restrictions – they just brought to what they were a year plus ago for the rest of the world.

    People will still not visit for the mere need of a PCR test.

  7. No sale. Hong Kong was once my favorite city in the world but not going back until all the arrival tests are scrapped. I don’t fancy even a 0.38% chance of winding up at Penny Bay. I’ll spend my time at a place that I don’t need to worry about this happening at all . . . and thankfully there are many at the moment.

  8. C’mon Gary. This is your site. Do a better job of writing the headline.

    “Opens” and “removes nearly all restrictions” seem to conflict with:

    – two PCR tests upon arrival
    – vaccination is still required
    – proof will be needed.

    That’s not “open”. That’s The Man lifting his steel-toed boot ever so slightly off your neck.

  9. @ Gary — Still sounds pretty strict to me. Hard pass on any transit or visit to HK for now. I have a feeling that we are on the verge of a disastrous outcome to China’s new policies, so this may end up being one step forward, three steps back in the short term.

  10. What about traveling through HK? I’ve notice some CP award tickets showing up lately.

  11. In the past I was in HK a few times a year. Usually went there first on my trips to Asia to relax a bit and adjust to the time, then on to other places,.Somehow for me HL has lost the special vibe, it is almost just another chinese city. I will go back if I need to, but the fun is gone for me.

  12. This is, to me, desperately sad. All I can do is pile on to the previous comments.
    When I was a teenager, I gave serious consideration to joining the HK police (I am English by birth). Nothing came of that but years later I ended up there.
    Hong Kong became my favorite city in the World, bar none. I set up a regional office there, established a business, had a residency status, and flatly just loved the place. I even mooted relocating there. Also, most of HK being rural, there are/were delightful places to visit.
    It’s all gone now.
    I will probably go back one more just time just to say goodbye. My wife likely won’t come with me, she’s worried about the CCP security apparatus and my predilection to shoot my mouth off.
    I’m not going under these circumstances though. As another poster has said, all it takes is one false positive on a test and you’ve wasted a lot of travel money.
    FWIW, you would be hard set to convince me that this isn’t done deliberately to keep foreigners away while the CCP grinds its boot into HK’s neck.

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