Ban on airlines that have transported infected passengers is no longer in place
Hong Kong has announced that it is ending its ban on airlines found to have transported passengers with Covid-19, easing one of the city’s strictest rules.
The government announced that the remaining regulations, including testing upon arrival for all passengers and testing during the mandatory seven-day quarantine, has caught the majority of inbound cases.
Under the measures, airlines faced a five-day flight ban if either more than five passengers or 5% of the total flight tested positive for Covid-19. Previously, flights were banned for up to two weeks.
The policy, which resulted in the banning of more than 100 flights this year alone, was part of a suite of “zero Covid” measures that have brought travel to a virtual standstill in what was formerly one of the world’s busiest transit hubs.
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Officials in the Chinese territory also cited returning students from overseas as a reason to ease the flight restrictions. Hong Kong leader John Lee, who began his five-year term last week, had earlier pledged to shore up the city’s deteriorating reputation as an international business hub. The government also aims to mitigate the significant social impact of the ‘circuit-breaker mechanism’ and the inconvenience it has caused for international students and their families.
The strict measures, along with a sweeping national security law used to crack down on dissent, have fuelled an exodus of residents from the former British colony, which for years has been an attractive destination for expats.
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Ahead of lifting the flight ban, the government added an extra Covid test to its quarantine protocols. Travellers must now undergo a pre-departure PCR test and five additional PCR tests over 14 days, while also providing proof of vaccination.
The city is one of the last remaining places in the world to have significant restrictions on travel, alongside mainland China, Macau and Taiwan.