Hong Kong to allow int’l travellers for first time since 2020

• Coalition of largest travel agents in Hong Kong predicts that more than 100,000 visitors will arrive each month

• Hong Kong will also relax threshold for suspending incoming flights carrying infected people starting on May 1

Hong Kong will allow foreigners to fly into the city starting next month, the government has announced, ending an entry ban that has kept most visitors away for more than two years and offering a potential lifeline to businesses long battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The city will also relax the threshold for suspending incoming flights carrying infected passengers from May 1, officials said on Friday, confirming an earlier Post report. The existing three-person threshold will be raised to five, or 5 per cent of the passengers on a single flight, whichever is greater. The length of time flight routes are suspended will be cut from seven days to five.

In announcing the end of the entry ban, the Food and Health Bureau revealed the decision to reopen the city to foreigners was made after a government steering committee reviewed the situation.

“Considering public health factors … and balancing the expectation from members of the public as well as the various sectors of the community … the committee considers that there is room to suitably adjust relevant measures,” it said.

All arrivals at Hong Kong International Airport, including residents and visitors, will be required to take a rapid antigen test (RAT), in addition to the usual polymerase chain reaction (PCR) ones, it revealed. Those who test negative via RAT can take dedicated transport to undergo seven days of quarantine at designated hotels, while waiting for their PCR test result.

“This can shorten the waiting time at the airport and reduce passenger flows,” it said.

The bureau noted that of all infections recorded between January and March, only 3 per cent were imported, while the proportion fell to 1 per cent for cases logged since April 1, when a ban on flights from nine countries including Britain and the United States ended.

The proportion of imported cases dropped despite the number of daily arrivals jumping from 300 during the first three months of the year to about 1,200 since the start of April.

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