As coronavirus infections in the city’s newest outbreak plateau, Hong Kong’s mayor announced on Monday that Hong Kong lift ban on flights the city would ease flying prohibitions on countries such as Pakistan and India, and also reduce quarantine time for visitors arriving in the country.
During a news conference on Monday, Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, revealed a ban on flights from 9 countries Canada, France, Pakistan, Australia, India, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Nepal, and the United States would be lifted on 1st April. Since January, a flying restriction has been in effect for most of these nations as authorities were trying to contain an epidemic of the highly infectious omicron strain in Hong Kong.
Travellers visiting the city can also be quarantined for as low as seven days in quarantine hotels, reduced from fourteen days if their test negative for the coronavirus on the 6th and 7th days. Before entering the city, such visitors must be completely vaccinated and test negative for the coronavirus.
Lam also stated that preparations for a citywide mass-testing program, first planned in February, would be cancelled.
“Experts believe it is inappropriate for us to dedicate precious resources to universal mass-testing,” Lam stated. “The government of the SAR will continue to keep an eye on the issue. We’ll decide whether or not to implement mandatory universal testing when the conditions are ripe.”
The changes outlined on Monday represent a shift in Hong Kong’s approach to the corona epidemic, as officials tried to provide guidance to Hong Kong businesses and residents after two years of complying with mainland China’s “zero COVID” policy.
Lam Says that the revisions are part of an interim evaluation of the city’s measures and that many stakeholders in the city would be discussed for any longer-term roadmaps for public health and economic development.
“We need to pay more attention to professionals, both locally and on the mainland,” Lam added.
Lam also declared on Monday that social separation restrictions will remain in place, however, they will be phased down starting 21 April if infection levels do not rise. After 6 p.m, the ban on eating in will be eased, and public gatherings will be limited to four individuals, up from two.