The move to lift travel restrictions comes amid concerns the former British colony is losing its competitive edge.
Hong Kong will scrap a controversial quarantine for visitors from next week, as pressure mounts to end more than two-and-a-half years of isolation that has gripped the economy and pushed talent out of the financial hub.
Chinese territory will resume quarantine-free entry from Monday, Hong Kong leader John Lee made the announcement during a press conference on Friday.
“We have to allow connectivity to the rest of the world so that we can have economic momentum,” Lee said, stressing the city must not “stand idly by” in the face of the virus.
Travelers to the city are now required to undergo three days of hotel quarantine, followed by four days of medical supervision, during which time they are restricted from entering certain locations including bars and restaurants. .
Under the new arrangements, arrivals will still have to undergo three days of medical supervision, reducing prospects for a strong recovery in the tourism industry.
Notice to come later months of warnings from businesses and residents that the former British colony, which calls itself the “World City of Asia,” is losing its competitive edge. for regional rivals such as Singapore.
Pandemic restrictions, coupled with a crackdown on dissent led by Beijing, have been blamed for a continued exodus that has displaced more than 200,000 people since 2020.
Hong Kong, which is caught between mainland China’s extremely strict “zero-COVID” strategy and calls to restore international travel, was one of the last economies to end the coronavirus quarantine. regarding the pandemic.
Taiwan on Thursday announced it would end its quarantine for arrivals in mid-October, while Japan opened the door for the resumption of mass travel with the return of visa-free entry and the end of the gender restriction. limit for daily arrivals from next month.
Gary Ng, a senior economist at investment bank Natixis, said Hong Kong’s announcement was a “late step” to restore the city’s competitiveness but did not go far enough.
“This move will help the aviation sector during business trips and overseas travel, which is a welcome and positive move for the people of Hong Kong,” Ng told Al Jazeera.
“However, it will not be enough to get the economy on track as it is still far from a full opening in attracting domestic visitors. There are still too many other limitations. No one wants to go to a city with a mandatory COVID test going on, a mandatory mask requirement, and a health code system for the travel industry.”