Hong Kong to Reopen Borders to Visitors from May

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Hong Kong is set to reopen its borders to international visitors. The new entry rules will come into effect from May 1, 2022.

Overseas travelers have been completely banned from Hong Kong for the last 2 years, with only Hong Kong citizens and residents able to enter.

The Hong Kong government announced the easing of restrictions for international travel in a press release, stating:

“Considering public health factors such as local epidemic development and capacity in tackling the local epidemic … the Steering Committee considers that there is room to suitably adjust relevant measures”.

The move follows similar changes in other Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand and Singapore, which have also begun to relax entry requirements for foreign arrivals.

International visitors must still follow all COVID-19 entry requirements, which will now be the same as those that apply to Hong Kong citizens and residents. Standard immigration rules also still apply, such as Hong Kong’s visa policy.

Hong Kong’s Travel Ban

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic Hong Kong has maintained some of the strictest travel restrictions in the world. Until now, only citizens and residents of Hong Kong could enter, and only by completing a 21-day quarantine on arrival in a hotel.

In April 2022, Hong Kong shortened the quarantine period to 1 week and began opening to foreign arrivals from certain countries, which included the UK and the US.

Despite the significant increase in the number of overseas visitors—from a daily average of less than 300, to around 1,200 since April 1, 2022—the number of COVID-19 cases has decreased. This is a positive sign for Hong Kong’s tourism industry, which has suffered greatly from 2 years without international tourists.

Hong Kong’s flight suspension policy

In addition to the ban on foreign visitors, Hong Kong has had a “route-specific flight suspension mechanism” in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 cases on inbound flights. This regulation, which has been criticized for being too strict, resulted in 25 suspended routes between April 1 and April 20, preventing thousands of Hong Kongers from returning home.

This safety measure will also be eased as part of Hong Kong’s reopening plan. From May 1, 2022, routes will only be suspended if 5 or more, or 5% or more (whichever is higher), of the passengers onboard test positive for COVID-19 on arrival.

The period of suspension for affected routes will also be reduced from 7 to 5 days.

What Do I Need to Travel to Hong Kong?

Once Hong Kong’s borders have reopened to foreign passengers, all arrivals must meet the current COVID-19 entry restrictions to enter. These will include a negative COVID-19 test result taken before departure, followed by another test on arrival in Hong Kong.

The “test and hold” procedure for arrivals will be altered from PCR to rapid antigen tests, which will “shorten the waiting time of inbound passengers at the airport to reduce crowd gathering, while maintaining stringent control of importation risks”.

Do I Have to Quarantine in Hong Kong?

International travelers will still have to quarantine on arrival in Hong Kong, however the mandatory quarantine period will be shortened to 7 days.

Arrivals must complete their 7-day quarantine in an approved hotel when they arrive in Hong Kong.

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