HONG KONG — Australian actor Nicole Kidman was exempted from quarantine in Hong Kong last week, the government appeared to confirm even as the Asian financial hub braced for more draconian Covid-19 travel restrictions to take effect from midnight Thursday.
The city's government did not directly identify the 54-year old Hollywood star but said it had granted foreign overseas film personnel permission to skip quarantine for "the purpose of performing designated professional work".
The exemption contrasts sharply with entry rules for residents that are some of the most stringent coronavirus requirements globally, sparking online criticism from residents in the special administrative region of China.
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Many travellers to Hong Kong have to do up to 21 days mandated quarantine in a hotel, even those who are vaccinated. The measures have led to many residents not being able to visit relatives and travel overseas for nearly two years.
"So we have HK residents who can't come back if not vaccinated (and even then with 2-3 weeks quarantine) but Nicole Kidman can just enter like this? It's disgusting!" said a Twitter user called @WhovianBooknerd.
Kidman was in the former British colony to film an Amazon television series called "The Expats", online news site HK01 reported. She was spotted shopping and filming after arriving from Sydney last week, according to HK01.
Australia is battling an outbreak of the fast-moving Delta strain and reported its biggest one-day rise in Covid-19 infections on Thursday.
Nicole Kidman talks to Chris Rock about playing Lucille BallJune 11, 202101:03
Hong Kong's government has upgraded 15 overseas places including the United States, Spain and France to "high risk" effective Thursday midnight, meaning only vaccinated people from those countries will be allowed to enter.
The measures have sparked chaos for travellers who are desperately trying to rebook hotel quarantine and flights with limited supply available.
Australia has been reclassified to "medium risk", which means vaccinated arrivals need to quarantine for 14 nights. Without the exemption, Kidman would have had to do 7 days of hotel quarantine.