Breakthrough for Hong Kong travel as quarantine requirement for Mainland visitors to be dropped from mid-May and Singapore travel bubble nears

HONG KONG, CHINA. In a series of important developments for Hong Kong’s tourism and travel retail sectors, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday announced some key easings of the current strict travel restrictions in the Special Administrative Region.

In the most important news from a travel retail perspective, Lam said that non-Hong Kong visitors from Mainland China will be allowed to enter Hong Kong from mid-May without having to undergo quarantine confinement, provided they were tested in advance for COVID-19. Details are still being worked out, she said.

Additionally, the ‘Return2HK’ scheme, which exempts Hongkongers arriving from Guangdong province and Macau from quarantine if they have a negative COVID-19 result, will be extended in late April to cover those arriving from elsewhere in the Mainland.

Mainland travel breakthrough

Commenting on the opening of the borders with Mainland China, Lam told reporters: “For the scheme to allow Mainlanders or people in the Mainland to come to Hong Kong without being subject to the 14-day quarantine arrangement, we will not specify what type of travellers. But they have all to get the quota from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government’s scheme, and they will have to have negative COVID-19 test results, then they can come.

“Within the Mainland, especially for Mainlanders, they have to get all sorts of permits to arrive, whether it is a one-way permit for a family reunion, a business permit for a business visit, or an official permit for an official visit, but that’s not under our scheme, that is really the exit arrangement for Mainlanders. The quota is going to be determined by us, and we hope to be able to tell people this quota once we get the scheme ready for implementation.”

The Chief Executive also noted that progress has been made on recreating the ‘Air Travel Bubble’ with Singapore, thwarted at the last moment in late 2020 as case numbers spiked in Hong Kong.

Reinflating the Air Travel Bubble

“For the travel bubble arrangement progress, at the moment it’s only with Singapore because we did have a scheme very much ready for implementation with Singapore before the fourth wave hit us in the latter part of November. I understand that the Commissioner for Tourism has had very good discussions with the Singaporean government and I hope to be able to announce some details very soon.”

Amid a general easing of social-distancing measures and travel restrictions, Ms Lam said that the mandatory quarantine period on fully vaccinated visitors from ‘low-risk’ places (Singapore, Australia and New Zealand), will be further reduced from 14 days to seven.

Vaccinated travellers arriving from medium-risk countries could have their confinement periods cut from 21 days to 14, and possibly lower, she added, noting that implementation dates and other details would be announced later.

The ban on arrivals from UK, implemented in late December, will be lifted for Hongkongers in early May, but will still involve a 21-day quarantine period.

Original source - The Moodie Davitt Report

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