Hong Kong central bank sends ‘care packages’ to high profile executives in quarantine

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Hong Kong’s central bank confirmed Tuesday that its officials sent care package goodies to high profile executives in quarantine as the business community’s frustrations grow over the city’s international isolation due to strict zero-COVID strategy.

The finance hub maintains one of the world’s longest quarantines, a measure that has kept the city largely coronavirus-free but cut off from much of the world.

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For some VIP executives stuck in mandatory hotel quarantine for up to 21 days, the burden has been eased by care packages.

Eddie Yue, head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), told the Hong Kong Economic Times on Monday that a team was sending “wine and gourmet food” to finance executives in the hope they would be “less angry with Hong Kong” over the strict quarantines.

When asked for comment on Tuesday, an HKMA spokesperson told AFP: “From their own pockets, HKMA senior executives sent confectioneries to a handful of executives under quarantine as a token of personal regards.”

The HKMA did not elaborate on the contents of the care packages, nor how many people had received them.

Hong Kong dubs itself “Asia’s World City” but has been largely internationally cut off throughout the pandemic, even as rival business hubs like Singapore, New York and London switch to living with the virus and reopening borders.

The city’s leaders have mirrored China’s zero-COVID strategy and made clear that restarting quarantine-free travel with the mainland must come before reopening to the rest of the world.

That approach has been welcomed by Hong Kong residents cut off from families or businesses in China, but sparked growing anger among employees and managers at blue-chip multinationals.

Businesses have complained the rules are hampering efforts to retain and recruit talent, and their pleas to officials have fallen on deaf ears.

Some airlines have been steering clear of Hong Kong altogether so that crew can avoid quarantine.

Last month, FedEx announced it was relocating all pilots based in the city to California.

In October, a survey by the finance industry’s main lobby group in Hong Kong warned half of its members were actively contemplating moving staff or functions out of the city.

With no end to the zero-COVID strategy in sight, some major banks like JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have begun offering staff thousands of dollars to help fund quarantine spells.

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