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Hong Kong cuts quarantine requirement for arrivals to 14 days from 21

The Chinese territory also extended a ban on flights from eight countries, including the U.S., as it reported a record 164 new coronavirus cases.
Residents of the Kwai Chung housing estate in Hong Kong, parts of which are on lockdown, line up to get tested for the coronavirus on Jan. 22.Kin Cheung / AP

HONG KONG — Hong Kong will cut quarantine for arriving travelers to 14 days from 21, starting Feb. 5, leader Carrie Lam said on Thursday, after pressure from finance executives and foreign diplomats, who said the measure was hurting competitiveness.

Tough coronavirus rules have made Hong Kong one of the world’s most isolated cities, with flights down as much as 90 percent. Residents returning from more than 160 countries and territories are required to quarantine for 21 days in designated hotels at their own cost.

Lam said that incoming travelers would have to spend 14 days in a hotel, followed by seven days of self-monitoring, with further details to be announced. She did not say which countries would be covered by the new rules.

The easing comes as the government tightens rules in the Chinese territory, locking down thousands in a congested housing complex and government facilities.

Schools, playgrounds, gyms and most venues are shut, while tens of thousands of people must do daily coronavirus tests.

A police officer guides a resident outside a building at the Kwai Chung housing estate on Jan. 22.Louise Delmotte / AFP - Getty Images

Lam said citywide curbs would be extended until Feb. 17, from a previous date of Feb. 4. A recent ban on flights from eight countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United States, was also extended by two weeks.

This week the government announced that some civil servants could work from home, with some bank staff receiving similar instructions. 

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Thursday’s 164 infections were a record since the pandemic started in 2020. It was a fifth consecutive day of cases in the triple digits after an outbreak linked to the Kwai Chung housing estate.

Hong Kong’s weeks of quarantine requirements are affecting desirability and risk an exodus, as companies move staff to Singapore and the South Korean capital of Seoul, the territory’s European Chamber of Commerce has said in an internal report.