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Hong Kong tightens travel curbs to combat COVID-zero

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Residents and tourists returning from 16 countries are now considered “high-risk” due to the Delta outbreak

Hong Kong introduces tighter travel restrictions for incoming residents

Hong Kong appears to be caught between its COVID-zero policy and its strong desire to re-open after tightening travel restrictions for incoming travellers. 

The move comes less than two months after the easing of tough quarantine measures, as fears grow regarding a resurgence in COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant.

Travel curbs are tightened for residents returning from 16 countries including the United States, France and Spain.

Initially these countries were considered “medium-risk” but are now upgraded to the “high-risk” category following recent outbreaks, a government spokesperson says.

“The global COVID-19 epidemic situation is under serious threat from the Delta variant, with acute surges in the number of confirmed cases within a short period of time in many countries.”

“Despite large-scale vaccination programmes, many places are also experiencing resurgence of the virus, which poses enormous challenges to our local anti-epidemic efforts.”

The new restrictions, taking effect from midnight August 20, means vaccinated residents returning from those countries must spend 21 days in hotel quarantine upon arrival. 

The curb will also see unvaccinated residents and tourists denied entry into the region. 

“After considering a basket of factors, the Government … has imposed more stringent boarding, quarantine and testing requirements on relevant inbound travellers in order to uphold the local barrier against the importation of COVID-19,” a government spokesperson says.

Prior to the update in restrictions, arriving residents and tourists who are vaccinated, only had to isolate in hotel quarantine for one week. 

But the seven-day isolation period wasn’t enough for a returning resident from the United States who tested positive for the virus after completing their week-stay in quarantine. 

“The Government will continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation of various places and adopt a risk-based approach,” a government spokesperson says.

“[We will] adjust the boarding, quarantine and testing requirements for persons arriving at Hong Kong from relevant places based on the risk levels as the situation warrants.”

Written by Rebecca Borg

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