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

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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

Vaccination

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
AstraZeneca2
Bharat Biotech Covaxin2
CanSinoBIO1
Covishield2
Covovax2
Gamaleya Sputnik V2
IMBCAMS2
Janssen1
KCONVAC2
Moderna2
Novavax2
Pfizer-BioNTech2
Sinopharm2
Sinovac2
Zifivax3

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. 

Conclusion

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.

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Tommy

Travelled to HK just before ‘0+3’. Was expecting the multiple PCR tests to hurt but they don’t really go that deep – the sample collectors just gently scrape around your mouth and nostrils. Felt like a feather itch but never like someone digging for gold all the way up. Also, it’s free. The CTCs are also not crowded. Can walk in, get PCR sample collected, and walk out within 5 minutes. However, you need a HK local number to get registered so maybe get a local SIM card – they need to see the confirmation SMS before starting the sample… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Tommy
Yc Lee

Location of CTCs please, any near Tsing Yi MTR ?? Tks

asprino

google is your friend, bro

Locations (communitytest.gov.hk)

you can also go those mobile specimen collection stations

Last edited 2 months ago by asprino
asprino

though more flights are restored, the pent-up demand for its own residents made ticket price sky rocketed. together with reopening of Japan, CX’s website (expectedly) crashed yesterday

doubtful if it means more CX award seats available

Elbert

CX website was hammered so bad though

James Quek

Agreed with Aaron that can KIV leisure visit to HK for the time being though the authority seemed to have stretched their limit to allow some degree of lifting. There are many destinations available for leisure travellers till HK is ready for full reopening without restrictions.

Jacob

Is anything known about the costs for all these PCR and ATR tests? Can one assume they’re free for visitors?

Johnny

I love HK, the weather, shopping and the food etc..With still so many restrictions and testing required, I would rather go Japan or Taiwan without the hassle..

Hope HK will recover soon and open fully..:)

Ortloc

The HK government has promised not to send positive tourists to notorious facilities like Penny Bay but their word is as good as the Chinese government.

And what if Hong Kong goes into hard lockdown while you’re there? It’s a no go for me as long as the sword of Damocles hangs overhead.

Greg

This is getting silly, just drop it all already!

I wonder how residents of HK and China must feel watching events like the Queen’s funeral where 500 of the most powerful and influential people in the world (with every incentive to take precautions) flew in with no isolation or restrictions, sat shoulder to shoulder indoors without a mask in sight and left *checks notes* with zero consequences.

Salmon Lee

Well, the Vice President of China was at the funeral, and he is an trusted, right-hand man of the Chinese paramount leader. He can go share his experience with his colleagues when back in China, and relate how the rest of the world has moved on. But then again, he might have been infected himself after back from the UK, so…

Ortloc

Queen Margarethe II of Denmark tested positive for covid after attending Elizabeth’s funeral.

Paul

I see Luft and Swiss have put up flights to HKG, in November meaning a cheaper route (not Singapore) to Manila from Europe is now available. Guessing no controls for transit passengers except proff of Vax

Alian

Not gonna out much faith. My guess is they’ll open up after CNY or at least Mr Xi gets his third term Oct.

Did a redemption for next June 2023. Seems like new flights loaded and a good amount in J. My flight was practically empty. So J and F redemption to HK is up for grabs for next June

Yif

Strange – a Singapore linked website suggesting tourists stay away from Hong Kong 🤣

Joshua

The same reason I don’t listen to Americans telling one not to visit North Korea, I’m sure their opinion is unsubstantiated.

Xman

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. What differentiates a troll are comments with no explanation or reasoning . If you disagree with milelion pray give a good argument. I am looking forward to your conspiracy theories

Last edited 2 months ago by Xman
Joshua

I don’t understand how I’m disagreeing with the Milelion, I just made a joke. I have absolutely no clue what insanity you’re on about.

Jing Yi

I don’t think Hong Kong even plays in the same league anymore, those days are gone forever.

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