HONG KONG—The city’s government has shortened the Covid-19 quarantine period for inbound travelers to three days, envisioning further measures to streamline strict border controls, but falls short of what businesses say is to restore its reputation as the world’s leading financial center of Asia.
Starting Friday, travelers arriving in Hong Kong will be allowed to leave designated quarantine hotels after three days, instead of the current seven, officials announced at a Monday morning briefing. During that time they will not be allowed to enter places that now require a vaccination card, such as gyms, bars and restaurants, they said.
The city’s reputation has taken a hit in recent months, caught between enforcing strict virus protection controls under Beijing’s “zero Covid” policy and trying to maintain its appeal as an open and globally connected base for business. As most of the world returns to normal, Hong Kong’s border controls and the perceived risk that it may resort to mainland-style lockdowns and other measures have led to public disillusionment and prompted many skilled workers to leave.
While any reduction in quarantine time may be better than none, Hong Kong’s competitive advantage as a regional base for business and an international financial center, or IFC, is being eroded as long as greater restrictions remain in place, business groups said.
“The ability to travel freely internationally is a key requirement of an IFC,” Sally Wong, chief executive of the Hong Kong Association of Investment Funds, said ahead of the announcement. “Only by completely abandoning the word ‘quarantine’ can we truly rebuild HK Inc.’s brand.”
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