Hong Kong will cut the length of time inbound travellers will be required to spend in designated hotel quarantine from 21 to 14 days following complaints over the high cost of quarantine stays.
Starting 5 February 2022, inbound travellers will spend 14 days in hotel quarantine during which time they must take six COVID-19 tests and return negative results. This will be followed by seven days of self-isolation with more tests to be conducted on the 16th and 19th days after arrival.
The government said Thursday that the decision to shorten the designated hotel quarantine was made based on World Health Organization information that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 transmits faster but has a shorter incubation period.
Only Hong Kong residents will be permitted entry and all arrivals must be fully vaccinated and hold a vaccination record.
There will be no such shortening of mandatory hotel quarantine in Macau – for now at least – with the Health Bureau stating only that it will consider the option of reducing its current 21-day requirement if regional medical reports confirm the incubation period for Omicron is shorter.
“For Macau, we will keep observing,” officials said. “After a risk analysis, if the report says that we can shorten the quarantine period, then we will consider it, but so far the quarantine period has not changed.”
While Macau did announce last week that a 14-day ban on all international flight arrivals would end as of 24 January, Hong Kong said Thursday it will extend a total ban on arrivals from eight countries – Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the UK and the USA – for another two weeks due to their high number of COVID-19 cases.
Originally in place for four weeks from 8 January to 4 February, the “place-specific flight suspension mechanism” will now run until at least 18 February.
“We understand that the place-specific flight suspension mechanism is an extremely stringent emergency measure and the relevant measure will inevitably affect the return journeys of Hong Kong residents returning from these eight places,” a government spokesman said.
“However, we must act decisively to lower the risk to the local epidemic situation so as to quickly quell the epidemic situation, such that it would not be necessary to maintain the most stringent prevention and control measures for a long time.”