Hong Kong Lifts Mandatory Hotel Quarantine for Inbound Travelers – What to Know Before You Go
Hong Kong hotel quarantine requirements have been lifted, allowing inbound travelers to return straight home or to a hotel of their choice after arrival. However, travelers will still be subject to certain restrictions and testing requirements depending on where they have come from. We explain the latest rules for traveling to Hong Kong and discuss what impact they may have on the city’s tourism and business environment.
On September 23, 2022, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee and Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau officially announced that the administrative region would lift the mandatory hotel quarantine that had been imposed on all inbound travelers since early 2020. The new policy, dubbed the “0+3” policy, took effect on Monday, September 26.
Previously, inbound travelers were required to quarantine at designated hotels upon arrival in Hong Kong for three days before undergoing four days of self-monitoring and home quarantine, in what was called the “3+4” policy. Now, international and mainland arrivals will only be required to undergo three days of either self-monitoring or medical surveillance, at home or at a hotel of choice, foregoing the hotel quarantine entirely.
The removal of mandatory centralized quarantine marks a hugely positive step for the city, which relies heavily on foreign tourism and business exchange with other countries. However, with some restrictions and testing requirements still in place for new arrivals, the city has still not returned to complete normality, which may yet discourage potential visitors. Additionally, short trips to the city are still impacted by the new regulations as visitors might not be able to shake all restrictions until the very last day of their trip.
Below we cover the latest requirements for passengers arriving in Hong Kong under the new rules and discuss the impact the new policy may have on the city.
What are the requirements for international arrivals?
Pre-flight testing and obtaining a Health Declaration QR code
Passengers traveling to Hong Kong will no longer be required to do a PCR test prior to boarding their Hong Kong-bound flight. However, they will still be required to do a rapid antigen test (RAT) 24 hours prior to boarding the flight. The test can be self-administered or done by a professional, and the (negative) test result must then be uploaded to the “Health & Quarantine Information Declaration” form.
The system will then generate a Health Declaration QR code, which must be downloaded or otherwise saved (such as through a screenshot) and presented when checking in and boarding the flight and upon arrival in Hong Kong. The QR code is valid for 96 hours from the time it has been generated for passengers traveling through Hong Kong International Airport, and for 24 hours for passengers entering through land control points.
Non-residents must also be fully vaccinated in order to enter Hong Kong, unless they have a medical exemption certificate. Hong Kong residents and children under the age of 12 are not required to be vaccinated to go to Hong Kong. See the full vaccination requirements here.
Documentation, self-monitoring, and testing requirements after arrival
The centralized hotel quarantine requirements have been removed for all inbound passengers, regardless of where they have come from. However, the health monitoring, testing, and self-monitoring requirements differ slightly depending on where the passenger has come from.
|Testing, Health Monitoring, and Self-Monitoring Requirements After Arrival in Hong Kong|
|Place of departure*||Documentation requirements||Health monitoring requirements||Self-monitoring and testing requirements|
|* Place of departure is the place the passenger has departed from or the place they have stayed in during the last seven days before departure to Hong Kong.
** The day of arrival in Hong Kong is counted as Day 0.
*** Medium and high-risk areas in mainland China and Macao are updated regularly. Check the Chinese government website or our COVID-19 tracker for the latest details.
In addition to the above requirements, passengers arriving from Taiwan or overseas will be required to take a PCR test at Arrivals in Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport. However, they do not need to wait for the test results and can continue on their journey as normal.
Amber code restrictions during self-monitoring period
For passengers that have completed the full course of COVID-19 vaccination (required for all non-residents over the age of 12, except for those with medical exemption), the Health & Quarantine Information Declaration system will issue a Provisional Vaccine Pass QR code, which will be turned to the “Amber Code” risk level by default during the three days of required health monitoring.
People holding an amber Vaccine Pass will be subject to certain restrictions on movement, which include prohibition from entering any “high-risk” premises. Therefore, while your code is amber, you are not permitted to enter:
- Catering businesses (such as restaurants, bars, and pubs);
- Indoor entertainment and leisure venues, including game arcades, bathhouses, fitness centers, indoor public entertainment venues, party rooms, beauty and massage parlors, clubhouses, nightclubs, karaoke bars, mahjong rooms, indoor sports premises, swimming pools, cruise ships, indoor event premises, barber shops or hair salons, and places of worship
- Outdoor entertainment and leisure venues, such as outdoor public entertainment venues, outdoor sports premises, and outdoor event premises
- Residential care homes for the elderly and persons with disabilities, schools, and designated healthcare premises
During the time your code is amber, you are permitted to engage in “low-risk” activity, including:
- Taking public transport
- Going to work
- Entering supermarkets and markets
There are a number of measures you are advised to take during the prescribed self-monitoring period. These include:
- Taking your temperature twice a day
- Taking preventative measures such as wearing a mask and regularly washing your hands
- Avoiding social gatherings as far as possible
- Seeking immediate medical attention if you feel ill and informing the doctor of your recent travel history
More details on advised self-monitoring procedures can be found here.
What happens if you test positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Hong Kong?
If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Hong Kong, you will be subject to the same quarantine requirements as Hong Kong residents. If you test positive through a RAT, you must notify the health authorities through this webpage. If you test positive through a PCR test (for instance, you are notified of the positive result through a text message), you must declare it to the authorities through this webpage.
If you test positive through a RAT, you will be given a PCR test to confirm that you are positive for COVID-19.
If you are confirmed positive but have mild or no symptoms, you will be transferred to a community isolation facility to quarantine for at least seven days. A PCR test will be administered on days 6 and 7, and if both are negative, you will be permitted to return home or to your hotel of choice. In some instances, you may be permitted to self-isolate at home for a period of 14 days instead of going to the community isolation facility.
If your symptoms are serious, you will be transferred to a hospital and will be discharged when the medical professionals deem it appropriate.
For more details on what happens if you test positive, see this infographic.
Will the new policy help Hong Kong’s businesses and tourist industry recover?
The latest policy is undoubtedly a positive step for the city’s tourist industry, which is an important source of income for many Hongkongers. According to data from Chinese travel company Trip.com, outbound flight orders increased by 400 percent upon the announcement of the removal of hotel quarantine. In addition, there was a 155 percent increase in orders of inbound flights compared to the previous weekend. Meanwhile, search interest in accommodation in Hong Kong on Expedia increased by 50 percent during the weekend before the new policy took effect.
Despite the uptick, it remains uncertain whether the lifting of quarantine requirements will lead to a substantial recovery of international visitors. Would-be tourists to the city may still be put off by the several rounds of COVID-19 testing and a three-day ban on entering any restaurants or entertainment venues – a major chunk of time for a shorter holiday. In addition, several other East Asian destinations, including Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan, have already removed or are planning to remove all travel restrictions for inbound travelers, which may therefore be more attractive to international tourists.
Moreover, the requirement to quarantine in a community isolation facility for people who test positive for COVID-19 is still a substantial hurdle for visitors as COVID-19 is increasingly considered an endemic disease around the world. In Singapore, for example, 72 hours of “self-quarantine” (at home or in a hotel) is now implemented for confirmed positive cases with mild or no symptoms. Upon the completion of self-isolation and a negative RAT, you are free to leave your premises with no restrictions thereafter. This trust-based, scare-free procedure has contributed to effectively overcoming the headaches of dealing with COVID-19 and has also allowed the city-state to effectively live with the virus.
Notwithstanding the challenges in attracting tourists, the removal of quarantine requirements will make it considerably easier for companies to send employees to Hong Kong for business trips and for overseas Hongkongers to return home. Indeed, in the short term, inbound travel may be driven more by residents making trips home and non-residents making mid-to-long-term business trips, rather than tourists. The lifting of measures is therefore a welcome step toward eventually returning the city to normality.
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 email@example.com.
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