22nd March 2022 – (Hong Kong) Chief Executive Carrie Lam pointed out yesterday that the circuit breaker mechanism banning flights to and from nine countries will be removed effective 1st April. She highlighted that the continuous ban will cause anxiety for Hong Kong residents who want to return to Hong Kong. She also hopes to maintain the confidence of the whole society in fighting the epidemic, so that the public can understand the future direction of the government.

The good news was well received by many Hong Kong residents or those who are currently stranded overseas. Some were even excited to plan holidays ahead because many countries overseas have removed quarantine requirements completely for fully vaccinated passengers. Some countries even allow unvaccinated travellers to enter by merely showing a negative PCR test. Locally, airlines such as HK Express even sent emails to its customers asking them to plan their next trips after the quarantine period at designated quarantine hotels for overseas arrival is reduced to 7 days.

However, many netizens expressed their frustration after the announcement was made yesterday. There are simply not enough designated quarantine hotels in Hong Kong for residents to plan their trips. Many of them reportedly fully booked for months aheads making it almost impossible to plan any trips. In the latest list of 7th cycle of the designated quarantine hotels announced which is valid until 31st July 2022, the original total of 44 designated quarantine hotels was reduced to only 25 from now till May. Many temporarily ceased operations as designated quarantine hotels between February and May. A lot of residents returning to Hong Kon were affected as result.

In response, the government has been urged to allow home quarantine instead or open up more designated quarantine hotels to meet the demand. If fully vaccinated local citizens who are infected with COVID-19 can make declaration via online platform using rapid antigen test and placed under home quarantine if they experience mild symptoms, residents returning from overseas should be subject to the same measure. After all, the relaxation of the quarantine measures is futile if citizens can’t book any room at all. A designated fleet of taxis can be arranged to transport arrivals to their respective homes. Designated hotels can still be retained for overseas travellers visiting Hong Kong who are non-residents.

Meanwhile, according to the latest announcement by the government, all overseas arrivals will no longer be divided into A,B, C zones. Hong Kong residents can board the plane after completing the vaccinations. A 48-hour nucleic acid negative test must be produced before departure. After arriving in Hong Kong, arrivals must undergo 14-day quarantine and the government will deploy anti-epidemic kits at the airport. If they test negative on the 6th and 7th days, they can leave the designated quarantine hotels early and undergo self-monitoring at home for another 7 days. They can conduct activities as normal and only test again on the 12th day.

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