Hong Kong Removes COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

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Hong Kong SAR has removed many of its remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions and its contact tracing policy, Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau announced at a press conference on December 13.

Lo confirmed that, from December 14, passengers arriving in the Special Administrative Region will no longer be issued an “amber code” for the first 3 days. Previously, this code prevented travelers from entering bars and restaurants for the initial part of their stay.

He also revealed that it will no longer be necessary to scan a health app in order to visit public venues, although a vaccine pass will still be needed to enter some locales such as restaurants.

China has also scrapped its separate “mobile itinerary card” health tracking function. This system had used cell phone data to follow people’s travel patterns to find out who had been to designated “high-risk” zones in major cities.

“We have to consider measures that will help to revive our economic and social activities”, Lo said about the removal of the restrictions.

Lo also revealed that, in order to “keep in line with mainland China’s policy”, travel to Macau and mainland China from Hong Kong will also be relaxed. 

Hong Kong Removes COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Why Hong Kong Is Relaxing Restrictions

The removal of many of Hong Kong’s travel restrictions follows China’s recent decision to finally move away from its hardline zero-Covid stance that had been in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

Hong Kong already began easing restrictions for overseas travelers in September, when it removed the mandatory quarantine requirement for arriving passengers.

Hong Kong leader John Lee has said that one reason for the ongoing relaxation of restrictions is the fact that the threat of infection from imported COVID cases to the region has now significantly diminished.

Remaining Entry Requirements for Hong Kong

Although the SAR has now significantly relaxed its entry rules, some health requirements for Hong Kong remain in place. Masks remain compulsory in all public spaces, including in outdoor venues.

Additionally, passengers must still take a PCR coronavirus test on arrival, as well as on the second day of their stay in Hong Kong. They must also take rapid antigen tests on the first 5 days of their visit. Those who test positive will be required to self-isolate.

Travelers are also still required to check the Hong Kong visa policy in advance of their trip to find out whether or not they require a travel permit to visit the SAR depending on their nationality.

While a large number of foreign citizens are able to visit Hong Kong visa-free for varying periods of short stay, others are required to have an approved visa or travel authorization. 

However, a limited number of nationalities can now use the Hong Kong visa online application to facilitate this process.