Friday, September 23, 2022

Hong Kong to end its Covid-related hotel quarantine requirement (but not much else) on September 26th

A measure of how abnormal things currently are in Hong Kong:
The closed off Airport Express check-in area at Kowloon MTR station
The big news this morning in this part of the world was that Singapore had overtaken Hong Kong to become Asia's top financial centre - and the third in the world after moving up three places -- according to a new Global Financial Centres Index report that puts New York and London in the first and second spots.  As per a Bloomberg report (which has appeared on other news media sites, including Singapore's Straits Times), this was not least because "Hong Kong is struggling to revive its role as a global finance hub as it continues to follow China's lead in trying to keep Covid-19 cases to a minimum, while the rest of the world opens up.
Seemingly as a direct reaction to this news, word soon came that Hong Kong's Chief Executive, John Lee, would be holding a press conference at 3.30pm today and there were hopes hat he would make the sort of announcement that the Japanese government made just yesterday: i.e., that the country would be dropping all restrictions on tourism effective October 11th.  And by drop, I mean: the dropping of quotas for travellers; the reinstatement of visa-free travel (for those people for which this had applied pre-pandemic); the dropping of Covid testing requirements (which, actually, is already the case for those who have been triply vaccinated); there being no quarantine requirements for arrivals to the country; and, also, there no longer being requirements to use the country's (unpopular) trac(k)ing app.
As it turned out, John Lee did make an announcement that appeared aimed at the easing of travel into Hong Kong.  The problem though is that it's really won't be enough to satisfy many people, including most international tourists of the sort that used to come to Hong Kong pre-pandemic (i.e., those who liked to spend a few days in Hong Kong as part of an Asian vacation that often would also include visits to at least one other city and/or tourist destination on the continent).

Contrast this to Singapore which, like much of the rest of the world, has considerably fewer Covid restrictions and regulations in place.  Oh, and there remains an outdoor as well as indoor (bar for when you are eating or drinking) mask requirement in place in Hong Kong -- something which many Hong Kongers are okay with but many non Hong Kongers would not be.  And don't forget such as the required use of the hated LeaveHomeSafe trac(k)ing app, and a ban on public gatherings of more than eight people.  
Cue celebrations from some circles and a rush to book flights to leave Hong Kong to do such as visit family and friends living abroad, or just go on holiday.  Truly, it doesn't seem to take much for some people to feel happy, ecstatic even.  Witness Danny Lee, an aviation reporter with Bloomberg, Tweeting the following: "With air travel restarting in Hong Kong: WHEN WILL IN-TOWN CHECK-IN RESUME! WHEN! Then I will count this as normalised"! 

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