While most of the world has all but done away with COVID restrictions, Hong Kong remains a rare hold out.
Despite a “reopening” of sorts in September, would-be visitors have been subject to an onerous testing regime featuring multiple ART and PCR tests, plus movement restrictions for the first three days. This barred them from restaurants and entertainment venues– you know, the kinds of places tourists might be interested in visiting.
But now there’s some good news: Hong Kong has announced a further easing in its COVID restrictions, which takes effect from 14 December 2022 onwards.
The main headline is that all post-arrival movement restrictions have been scrapped. Tourists will be free to visit any venue they please as soon as their on-arrival PCR test comes back negative. The LeaveHomeSafe app will no longer be used, but post-arrival testing will continue for now, as will mandatory isolation for confirmed cases.
Hong Kong’s revised entry measures
|🇭🇰 Summary: Travel to Hong Kong|
From 14 Dec 22
Here’s a brief rundown of Hong Kong’s revised entry measures, which take effect from 14 December 2022.
As before, Hong Kong continues to require all travellers to be fully vaccinated, unless they are Hong Kong residents. The following vaccinations are recognised:
|Bharat Biotech Covaxin||2|
|Gamaleya Sputnik V||2|
Children under the age of 12 are currently exempt from the vaccination requirement.
Hong Kong requires all travellers to take a pre-departure ART within 24 hours of departure. This can be self-administered, so you basically buy a kit from a pharmacy and swab yourself.
Within 96 hours of departure, travellers must complete the online Health & Quarantine Information Declaration. Here’s where they submit information on their vaccination status, pre-departure ART result as well as recent infections, if any.
All arrivals in Hong Kong must take a throat-swabbed PCR test at the airport. This is free of charge. After providing the sample, they can proceed to claim their luggage and head to their accommodation by any mode of transport (i.e. it’s not necessary to wait for a negative result).
Once a negative result is received, they are free to head anywhere they wish in Hong Kong.
All arrivals in Hong Kong must take self-administered ARTs on Days 1-5 (the day of arrival is Day 0). Photographs of results are to be submitted via the ECMSS.
On Day 2, in addition to the self-administered ART, arrivals must take another PCR test. Like the on-arrival test, this is also free of charge. Tests can be booked via this link.
Hong Kong is not making any changes to its masking rules. Masks will continue to be required both indoors and outdoors, as well as on flights.
What happens if you test positive?
Visitors who test positive will be issued a 5-day isolation order.
Isolation can be carried out at a hotel, but it’s important to check beforehand that your hotel allows in-room isolation. Do note that most hotels will impose a cleaning fee for rooms occupied by a positive case.
If your hotel does not permit this and you test positive, you will be relocated to a Community Isolation Facility (CIF). The current list of CIFs features:
- Kai Tak Community Isolation Facility
- Novotel Citygate Hong Kong
- Penny’s Bay
You do not have a choice of where you are sent to.
How does this compare to before?
|Till 13 Dec 2022||From 14 Dec 2022|
|e-Health declaration||Complete within 96h of departure|
|Pre-departure test||Self-ART within 24h of departure|
|On-arrival test||Day 0 PCR (at airport)|
|Medical Surveillance||Amber Code for 3 days||None|
|Post-arrival tests||Day 1-7: Self-ART|
Day 2: PCR
|Day 1-5: Self-ART|
Day 2: PCR
|*Exceptions for Hong Kong residents, and children aged below 12|
Apart from the removal of Day 6 and 7 self-ARTs, the main difference compared to before is the scrapping of Amber Code restrictions for the first three days. Once you receive a negative result from the test done at the airport, you may head anywhere you wish.
In fact, I do wonder whether this will have any implications for transit passenger lounge access, seeing as how Cathay Pacific currently operates a two-tier system:
- Passengers originating from Hong Kong or Mainland China use The Wing First Class section
- All other passengers use The Pier Business Class section
Hopefully the restrictions on comingling at the airport will be removed going forward.
Hong Kong has ended movement restrictions for international arrivals, which removes the need to wait three days before your trip can start in earnest.
Despite this, the travel process is still a good distance away from pre-COVID norms, with on-arrival and Day 2 PCR testing remaining. It’s a far cry from what tourists going to Taiwan or Japan can expect, even though all three announced their reopening around the same time.
But hopefully this will be the impetus for Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific to ramp up flights between Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as the Cathay Pacific lounge in Terminal 4.