Header image courtesy of Ryan Mac (via Unsplash)
After much anticipation, the Hong Kong government has finally announced that it will further relax the city’s Covid-19 quarantine rules for inbound travellers starting Monday, 26 September. Officials announced on 23 September that they will introduce the new “0+3” quarantine format, whereby the compulsory hotel quarantine requirement is lifted completely. Travellers to Hong Kong will now only need to undergo three days of “home medical surveillance” followed by four days of “self-monitoring.”
Instead of taking a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, all travellers coming into Hong Kong from overseas or from Taiwan must now take a rapid antigen test (RAT) 24 hours before their scheduled departure time. The negative result must be declared online through the Health and Quarantine Information Declaration form.
Hong Kong residents returning to the city do not have to be fully vaccinated, whilst non-Hong Kong residents aged 12 or above are still required to be fully vaccinated or have obtained a medical exemption certificate before boarding for Hong Kong.
Inbound travellers will still have to undergo testing at the Hong Kong International Airport when they arrive in the city. However, they will not be required to wait for their results after undergoing specimen collection for the PCR test under the new “test-and-go" arrangement, which allows travellers to take public or self-arranged transport home or to their hotel of choice.
Whilst compulsory hotel quarantine is scrapped, inbound travellers are still required to undergo three days of medical surveillance, whether at home or at an accommodation of your choice. During this period, travellers are free to go out but must comply with the yellow code restrictions under the Vaccine Pass, which allows limited movement on public transport, offices, shopping malls, and other premises. It does not allow access to restaurants, bars, gyms, and beauty salons where they may be able to take off their masks.
Travellers who have consecutively tested negative can complete their medical surveillance period on the morning of their fourth day after arriving in the city. Their yellow code will then turn to a blue code, after which travellers must undergo four days of self-monitoring. They will be required to take daily RATs, making the observation period for international arrivals seven days in total. Those who test positive during the medical surveillance and self-monitoring period will be issued a red code.
Arrivals in Hong Kong will still be required to take PCR tests at community testing centres, mobile testing stations, or other recognised institutions on Day 2, Day 4, and Day 6 upon their arrival in the city, supplemented by daily RATs from Day 1 to Day 7, with the day of their arrival in Hong Kong being Day 0.
This is certainly some good news for inbound and outbound travellers in Hong Kong since the start of the pandemic. With the new regulation, the Hong Kong government hopes to minimise the inconvenience posed to travellers by the previous compulsory hotel quarantine policy, allowing the city to reconnect with the world in every aspect as best as possible whilst keeping the pandemic under control.