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Coronavirus

Hong Kong to shorten hotel quarantine for vaccinated travelers from US, UK, others

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Hong Kong will shorten hotel quarantine to seven days for fully vaccinated residents traveling from most places -- including those classified as “high-risk” like the US, UK and Canada -- as long as they test positive for coronavirus antibodies, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

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The move, which the report said would be announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam at a Monday afternoon briefing, will mark a significant easing of one of the strictest quarantine regimes in the world that currently imposes mandatory quarantine of up to 21 days for travelers.

Bloomberg reported last week that the quarantine easing plan, which had been recommended by a government advisory panel earlier this month, had been approved by the government.

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A security personnel in personal protective equipment stands guard after HSBC closes its branch at headquarters due to multiple coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases according to media reports, in Hong Kong, China March 17, 2021. (Reuters)
A security personnel in personal protective equipment stands guard after HSBC closes its branch at headquarters due to multiple coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases according to media reports, in Hong Kong, China March 17, 2021. (Reuters)

Places currently classified as “high-risk” include Singapore, Japan, France, Germany and Italy. Fully vaccinated travelers coming from these places must currently quarantine for 14 days in a hotel.

Lam will speak at a press briefing scheduled for 3 p.m. local time Monday, according to a government statement.

The plan would be the city’s most significant move yet to ease the stringent restrictions that have threatened its status as a financial hub as major western economies open up and vaccination pulls ahead in regional rival Singapore.

The current quarantine regime has been a growing source of public anger. Travelers have to book their own hotel rooms, and they’re being reserved quickly over the summer period.

In Hong Kong, fully vaccinated people are also required to serve quarantine in government facilities if they come into close contact with infected people, even if they’ve tested negative for the virus. With vaccine uptake slow amid widespread distrust of the Beijing-backed government, calls have grown for the strict rules to be relaxed for inoculated people in order to boost rates.

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