Quarantine Exemptions Expanded, Extended for Hong Kong Enterprises with Cross-Border Operations

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  • More Hong Kong companies outside the essential industries will avail of the quarantine exemption, so long as their cross-border travel to China is deemed necessary to Hong Kong’s economic development.
  • The exemption itself is extended by a month to June 7, 2020.

On May 4, the Hong Kong SAR Government announced that more Hong Kong enterprises with cross-border operations are now eligible to apply for an exemption from the usual compulsory quarantine requirements.

The announcement effectively widens the net of Hong Kong enterprises with personnel who are eligible for the quarantine exemption, as well as extends the expiry date of this exemption by one month, to June 7.

What does the amended regulation say?

Under the newly-added section 4(1)(b) of the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving At Hong Kong Regulations (“the Regulations”), the Chief Secretary for Administration now has the discretion to exempt any person or category of persons from the compulsory quarantine, if the person(s) travelling is necessary for the purpose of continuing manufacturing operations, business activities or the provision of professional services in the interest of Hong Kong’s economic development.

Previously, this only applied to businesses where entry of personnel was necessary for ‘the supply of goods or services required for the normal operation of Hong Kong or the daily needs of the people of Hong Kong.’ That meant only companies providing food, medical appliances, and personal hygienic products qualified for the exemption, according to the Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department, responsible for the application process.

Now, under the broadened scope, more companies operating outside the essential medical and food supply industries will avail of the exemption, so long as their travel is deemed necessary for their operations. Simply put, their manufacturing operations or business activity must serve the core interest of Hong Kong’s economic development.

Who is exempt?

In accordance with the Regulations, exemptions will continue to be provided to two categories of people:

  • The owner of the Hong Kong enterprise and up to one person employed and so authorized by the enterprise; or
  • Up to two persons employed, and so authorized by such an enterprise.

This will apply to enterprises with a valid business registration certificate issued under the Hong Kong Business Registration Ordinance and with manufacturing, or business operations in mainland China.

Exempted personnel must remain in the city where the business operation takes place and ensure that precautions are taken to limit unnecessary social contact.

Upon returning to Hong Kong, the employee(s) will be subject to medical surveillance arranged by the Department of Health and will be required to wear masks and have their body temperatures checked daily.

Restoration of cross-border ties with mainland China

Since February 8, a mandatory 14-day quarantine has existed for all arrivals who were travelling from or had been to the Chinese mainland in the past two weeks.

As the coronavirus situation stabilizes across Hong Kong and China, more and more measures have been released by the Hong Kong government to gradually restore the function of its cross-border business operations and services.

For example, cross-border truck drivers and other transport workers have already been exempted from the regulations in order to maintain a stable supply of essential goods.

The latest updates to the Regulations, demonstrate the Hong Kong government’s resolve to assist more businesses and help restore the full functionality of their operations as soon as it is feasibly possible.

Eligible Hong Kong enterprises should submit the completed application form with all required supporting documents to the Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department by email (exemption@tid.gov.hk) or by fax (3525 0988).

For further assistance on how to apply for such exemption, or other schemes that may apply to your business, please contact china@dezshira.com.


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China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com

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