Hong Kong lifts hotel quarantine, but tourists should stay away for now

Last Updated:

Hong Kong removes hotel quarantine from 26 September, but daily ARTs, 4x PCR tests and a 3-day ban on visiting restaurants & entertainment venues means tourists should stay away.

Hong Kong has announced that it will be ending its mandatory hotel quarantine from Monday, 26 September 2022. This currently stands at three days, although it had been as long as 21 days in the past. 

While it’s good news for locals and those with essential travel needs, tourists shouldn’t celebrate just yet. Hong Kong is replacing mandatory hotel quarantine with a ‘0+3’ system, under which international arrivals:

  • Present a negative pre-departure ART result
  • Take an on-arrival PCR test at Hong Kong Airport
  • Take further PCR tests on Days 2, 4, and 6
  • Take daily ARTs on Days 1-7
  • Cannot visit any restaurants, bars or recreational venues for the first three days

I don’t think any tourist is looking forward to the prospect of four PCR tests, and adding the fact that all dining and entertainment venues are off-limits for the first three days, you really have to ask yourself if there’s a point.

Hong Kong lifts hotel quarantine

Visitors to Hong Kong will no longer be required to quarantine in a hotel

It seems like a stretch to call this a reopening, but from 6 a.m on Monday, 26 September 2022, international arrivals to Hong Kong will no longer be required to stay at a quarantine hotel. 

Instead, they will abide by the following procedure: 

🇭🇰 Summary: Travel to Hong Kong
(From 26 September 2022)
  • Fully vaccinated with a recognised vaccine
    • Not required for Hong Kong residents
  • Download Leave Home Safe app (Android | iOS)
  • Take a pre-departure ART within 24 hours of departure (can be self-administered)
  • Complete Health & Quarantine Information Declaration
  • Take PCR test upon arrival at Hong Kong Airport (Day 0)
    • Can leave airport by any means of transport as soon as sample is taken
    • No isolation necessary
  • Take self-administered ART on Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Take PCR test on Day 2, 4 and 6
  • Travellers will be issued Amber code for first 3 days which prevents them from visiting restaurants and entertainment venues
  • Travellers will be issued Blue code if Day 2 test is negative, which lifts visiting restrictions from 9 a.m on Day 3
Official Source


Non-Hong Kong residents will still need to be fully vaccinated to visit Hong Kong. Hong Kong defines fully vaccinated travellers as those who have received the minimum doses of the following vaccinations at least 14 days prior to departure. 

VaccineDoses Required
Bharat Biotech Covaxin2
Gamaleya Sputnik V2

Those who have recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection only need to receive one dose of a recognised COVID-19 vaccine to be considered as fully vaccinated. 

Children aged below 12 are exempt from the vaccination requirement. 

Pre-departure test & declaration

Instead of a pre-departure PCR test, international travellers will only be required to take an ART within 24 hours of departure. 

Crucially, the ART can be self-administered.

With the COVID-19 testing services in overseas places being scaled back, inbound persons may have difficulties in obtaining the required testing report prior to boarding for Hong Kong. Therefore, the pre-departure test for inbound persons from overseas places and Taiwan will be changed to an RAT (can be self-administered or by professional swab sampling) conducted within 24 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure

-HK Government

The results of the pre-departure test must be self-declared via the Health & Quarantine Information Declaration system, along with vaccination records. Completing this will generate a QR code, which should be shown to the airline during check-in. 

Declarations can be completed up to 96 hours before departure (although the ART results must be from the past 24 hours). 

You might wonder how the lack of professional certification keeps people honest, but trust me, if you’re positive, you don’t want to travel to Hong Kong. You won’t slip past four PCR tests, and testing positive means mandatory isolation. 

On-arrival testing

On-arrival PCR testing is required at Hong Kong Airport

On arrival in Hong Kong, travellers will take a PCR test at the airport. They can then proceed with the normal arrival process, claim their baggage and leave the airport by any mode of transportation. There is no need to wait for a negative result.

However, travellers will be issued an Amber code on their Leave Home Safe app, which prevents them from visiting the following venues for the first three days.

❌ No-Go List for Amber Code
  • Catering premises (including bars or pubs)
  • Amusement game centres
  • Bathhouses
  • Fitness centre
  • Places of amusement
  • Places of public entertainment
  • Party rooms
  • Beauty parlours
  • Club houses
  • Clubs or nightclubs
  • Karaoke establishments
  • Mahjong-tin kau premises
  • Massage establishments
  • Sports premises
  • Swimming pools
  • Cruise ships
  • Event premises
  • Barber shops or hair salons
  • Religious premises
Amber Code Restrictions

This basically means no dining out, nor visiting any kind of recreational venue including those in their hotel.

Post-arrival tests

Travellers will be required to take daily self-administered ARTs on Days 1-7 (the day of arrival is considered Day 0)

On Days 2, 4 and 6, in addition to the self-administered ART, travellers must take a mandatory PCR test at a community testing centre, mobile specimen collection centre, or a local medical testing institution. PCR tests at community testing centres are free of charge, even to foreigners. 

  • If a positive result is received, they will need to isolate at home, in hotels, or community facilities
  • If the Day 2 test is negative, Amber code restrictions will end at 9 a.m on Day 3, replaced by a Blue code (which allows the traveller to visit any venue)

For what it’s worth, Bloomberg says that travelers who test positive won’t be sent to “notorious government-run isolation facilities like Penny’s Bay”. They may isolate in their hotel, at their own expense. 

Yet this is far from business-as-usual, and for that reason I highly doubt that 26 September will see a surge in tourist arrivals. 

What’s the upside for non-Hong Kong residents?

Cathay Pacific’s schedule should show steady recovery after this

Let’s be clear: this announcement is certainly good news for Hong Kong residents, and anyone with essential travel needs. However, tourists are likely to stay away, deterred by the strict testing regime and visiting restrictions. 

At the same time, there can be benefits for those who don’t intend to visit Hong Kong, insofar as this leads to a restoration of Cathay Pacific’s schedules. One major headache for Asia Miles and other oneworld members based in Singapore is that Cathay Pacific’s bare bones schedule (up to 5x weekly flights, versus 9x daily prior to COVID) makes finding awards very difficult. If more SIN-HKG flights are added, then redemptions should also become easier. 

Cathay Pacific Lounge at Changi Airport | Photo: The Shutterwhale

Moreover, the reopening of Hong Kong is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the reopening of the lovely Cathay Pacific Lounge in Terminal 4. It’s hardly the most important thing right now, but something to look forward to. 


Hong Kong will lift its mandatory hotel quarantine from 26 September 2022, but it’s not quite the reopening we were hoping for. Unlike Japan and Taiwan, who also announced reopenings this week, visitors to Hong Kong will face restrictions for the first three days at least, ruling out restaurants, bars, amusement parks, massage parlours, swimming pools and anything a tourist might want to use.

That’s not to mention up to four PCR tests, which although free are still a disruption to one’s schedule (not to mention painful for some people). 

If you enjoyed visiting Hong Kong before COVID, I’d say hold off for now. There’s still some way to go. 

Are you planning to visit Hong Kong with the end of mandatory hotel quarantine?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

Similar Articles




Featured Deals


Follow us