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Hong Kong relaxes Covid quarantine rules for visitors from mainland China

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Hong Kong will allow people from mainland China to visit the city’s first serious relaxation of strict Covid-19 immigration requirements for tourists without facing quarantine procedures.

However, critics of the Hong Kong government’s quarantine policy, which begins on September 15, said that Asian financial centers prioritized the travel bubble with mainland China over international connections that were important to executives living in mainland China. He said it was another sign.

The plan allows up to 2,000 non-Hong Kong residents from the mainland and Macau to enter the territory daily without quarantine, said city leader Carrie Lam. .. However, visitors will be subject to hotel quarantine when they return to mainland China.

Companies welcomed the move, but financial executives said Beijing was still waiting for a broader resumption plan to provide mutual tax exemption for quarantine requirements.

On Tuesday, stock prices of retailers such as jewelers and cosmetology brands rose, hoping that relaxation of quarantine rules would boost the local economy.

Travelers from the mainland have historically made up the majority of tourism to Hong Kong. Chow Tai Fook Jewelery Group shares, dominated by the family of the late millionaire Chung Yu, rose 4 percent in the news.

Hong Kong has successfully contained the coronavirus, killing only 212 people, but due to its strict quarantine policy Frustrated international business, It claimed that the rules undermine the city’s position as a financial hub.

Banking officials on Wall Street said opening a business trip would be a “big step” as mainland China is the most popular destination for Hong Kong staff.

“We are all in favor of moving things back between Hong Kong and the mainland, but this policy seems to be very one-sided,” said an executive.

Hong Kong is pursuing a zero-covid policy in line with demands from its largest trading partner, mainland China.

To meet China’s requirements, Hong Kong banned most international non-residents from entering the country and forced residents traveling from many countries to stay for a few weeks. Hotel quarantine..

“We are implementing a secure strategy and we must keep Covid away before we can fully talk about it … Open border or economy,” said Hong Kong’s Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development. Edward Yau said.

Government criticism increased at the end of last month over a U-turn in plans to ease international travel restrictions.

The European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (EuroCham) warned that quarantine policies could make it less competitive to attract talented people, and warned that people were already “permanently” gone.

“The announced mitigation is generally a positive sign for Hong Kong as it allows more visitors to come to Hong Kong, but this did not change our position,” said EuroCham. Chairman Frederik Gollob said.

The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, which previously relied on Hong Kong, the center of international events and conferences, said on Monday that 45% of its members had no roadmap to mitigate subsidies and forced quarantine. For business travelers who said it might close within a month.

A senior financial executive in Hong Kong told the Financial Times that quarantine measures have caused “irrefutable damage” to the popularity of the territory as an international financial center.

Hong Kong’s Global Bank was able to apply for a specific scheme to exempt executives from long-term quarantine in Hong Kong. However, according to official figures, 246 of the 325 applications under this scheme were rejected or withdrawn.

The outbreak in China temporarily suspended another plan to allow 5,000 Hong Kong residents to return from the mainland without quarantine, but will resume on Wednesday.

Hong Kong vaccination rates are slowing, with only 54% of the population fully vaccinated against Covid.

Additional report by William Langley of Hong Kong

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Hong Kong relaxes Covid quarantine rules for visitors from mainland China

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