After more than two years of rigid pandemic rules, travellers to Hong Kong will be allowed to move around the city freely if they test negative for the coronavirus.
Hong Kong is scrapping some of its last remaining COVID restrictions following China’s rapid shift away from the zero-tolerance approach.
Starting Wednesday, the city will eliminate its “amber code” rule, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, which previously banned international tourists from entering places like restaurants and bars for three days after their arrival. Some venues, including restaurants, will still need proof of vaccination upon entry.
Travellers will also still be required to undergo a rapid antigen test 24 hours before they board a flight, undergo a PCR test on arrival and again on day 2, and then undergo rapid antigen tests each day for five days.
Masks are still mandated across the city, unless exercising. Group gatherings of more than 12 people are banned, but people can still go to nightclubs and attend banquets where hundreds of people are present.
The city will also eliminate the need to scan a government health app to enter public venues. The government’s move to scrap its mobility-tracking app governing access to public places, comes after mainland China dropped the requirement and continues to loosen its strict zero-COVID policy. In August, officials cut the mandated hotel quarantine to three days before scrapping it completely in September. In November, Hong Kong started allowing visitors in tour groups to enter certain tourist attractions like theme parks, museums, and temples, as well as eat in “partitioned areas” in designated restaurants. Earlier this month, Beijing ended the need for travelers to undergo testing before domestic flights, as well as removing the requirement for on-arrival checks for regional flights.
Business groups, diplomats and many residents had slammed Hong Kong’s COVID-19 rules, saying they threatened its competitiveness and standing as an international financial centre.
The strict COVID rules have undermined Hong Kong’s role as a regional aviation hub. Although Hong Kong International Airport is significantly busier than it was before mandatory hotel quarantine was scrapped, it is not back to pre-pandemic levels.
The move was welcomed by travel industry insiders, including China’s ambassador to the United States, who said he expects restrictions will be further relaxed soon and international travel will become easier.
For Andrew, travel is so much more than just learning history or taking photos. Rather, the value of travel is witnessing a lifestyle, bonding with locals, and gaining rich cultural experiences. That’s why he founded the Luxury Wanderer; a place to share itineraries, offer advice, swap stories, and foster a like-minded community of curious travellers.