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Negative test, hotel quarantine imposed on travelers from Phl, 6 other countries

18 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap
All new arrivals from the Philippines, whatever their visa status, will be covered by the new rules

Starting next Saturday, Jul 25, all travelers coming from the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and South Africa will have to present a negative test result from Covid-19 before being allowed to board a flight going to Hong Kong.

In addition, all such travelers, whatever their visa status in Hong Kong, will have to present proof of confirmation of a hotel stay in Hong Kong for no less than 14 days, for their mandatory quarantine starting on the day of their arrival.

The requirements are set out in a regulation published today, Jul 8, in the Official Gazette, titled “Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-Boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation.
The new rules were issued following a meeting yesterday afternoon between Hong Kong officials led by Deputy Secretary for Health Howard Chan and the consulates of the affected countries, including Consul General Raly Tejada.

The inclusion of Filipino residents in the restriction came as a surprise because up until Thursday, the government only mentioned as “high risk” five countries where there is a rapid spread of the coronavirus.

For the Philippines and Indonesia, only foreign domestic workers and possibly, air and sea crew, were mentioned.

Pindutin para sa detalye!

ConGen Tejada said he asked if exemption for the hotel quarantine could be given to Filipino residents who have their own homes, but was told no.

Nilaban ko yan,” said Congen, but “adamant sila. Wala daw exception.”
(I fought for that. But they were adamant. They said there are no exceptions <to the rule>).

The new regulation should have taken effect on Jul 15, along with tightened restrictions on social gathering and a ban of establishments where large gatherings take place, including all venues operated by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, but the consuls general asked for more time to prepare.


“Since they wanted to implement it immediately all consulates were unanimous in asking for more time to prepare, hence the 25 July 2020 effective date,” said Congen Tejada.

Congen Raly with Labor Secretary Law Chi-kwong: all expenses of FDWs should be borne by employers
“We also got assurances from the Labor Department representatives that employers will be responsible for the cost of testing and hotel bookings,” he added.

But he agreed the new regulations will make it more difficult for Filipinos to travel in and out of Hong Kong.

Currently, Hong Kong only requires all arriving travelers to undergo testing on arrival, and if negative, to spend the mandatory 14-day quarantine either in their homes or a designated place.
The only exceptions are arriving residents from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are put in quarantine facilities operated by the government.

Under the new regulations, anybody who stayed for 14 days in any of the seven specified countries before boarding the flight to Hong Kong, will have to present: 

1) a letter or certificate issued by a laboratory or healthcare institution bearing the name and identity document of the traveler specifying that he/she underwent a nucleic acid test for Covid-19 within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure, and the result was negative.
2) The original of the test result showing the name and identity card or passport number of the traveler; 

3) A letter in English or Chinese issued by the relevant authority in which the laboratory or health institution is located, that the said facility is recognized or approved by the government;

4) The traveler has confirmation in English or Chinese of room reservation in a hotel in Hong Kong for not less than 14 days starting on the day of arrival in the city.

The airline, in turn, must submit to the Department of Health before arrival in Hong Kong, a declaration that each of its relevant passengers on board, had produced the required documents mentioned above.

The new regulations do not apply to travelers who are just transiting in Hong Kong, and all those exempt from quarantine rules, like air and sea crew.

An operator of an airline or sea vessel who does not follow the regulation may be charged, and upon conviction, face a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

As for travelers, those who knowingly or recklessly provide false or misleading information may, upon conviction, be fined a maximum of $10,000 and imprisoned for up to six months.

The new rules will make travel for Filipinos to and from HK more difficult

The new rules could further discourage travelers from the Philippines to come to Hong Kong, or Filipino residents here to fly to the Philippines for business, personal or leisure purposes.

The Philippines also requires a negative Covid-19 test on arrival, and a 14-day mandatory quarantine. 

While returning overseas Filipino workers get tested for free and are quarantined in hotels fully paid for by the government, non-OFWs bear the cost of the hotel quarantine, although right now, they also get tested for free.

But the big problem is with the release of the test result. The government says the result will be issued within 3-10 days, but this is not guaranteed. 

One can avail of a guaranteed test result within 24 hours, but this costs upwards of Php9,000 per person if administered by high-end laboratories, or hospitals like the Makati Medical Center.

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