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Flight ban on Philippines stays

01 June 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Flights coming from the Philippines can only bring in cargo and not passengers

The result of Hong Kong’s periodic review of boarding and quarantine requirements for travelers from overseas has just been released, showing no changes for those arriving from countries specified as “extremely high risk,” including the Philippines.

This means that no travelers who had stayed for at least two hours from countries in the Group A1 category will still be barred from entering Hong Kong. Apart from the Philippines, the countries on flight ban status are India, Nepal, Pakistan, Brazil and South Africa.

The news should come as a big disappointment to an estimated 3,000 Filipino migrant workers who have been waiting to fly to Hong Kong to start on their jobs since the flight ban was imposed on Apr 20.

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It should be frustrating as well to about 250,000 other Filipinos in Hong Kong who are unable to fly home for a vacation or emergency reasons because of the uncertainty of when they could return to their jobs and homes here.

The restrictions are extremely harsh for those who intend to fly in from the countries in the A1 category. Anyone who had stayed in any of these countries for at least two hours, within 21 days prior to the intended flight date, will not be allowed to board a flight for Hong Kong.

Those who had exceeded the 21-day requirement will be relegated to A1 status, meaning they will have to spend 21 days in hotel quarantine, whether vaccinated or not.


The press statement issued by the government late on Monday only indicated the relaxation of travel restrictions for the United Kingdom, which has been upgraded to the Group B (high risk) from A2 status (very high risk).

This means that from Jun 4, all fully vaccinated travelers from the UK, like others in the Group B category such as Indonesia, will now be required to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days, from the previous 21 days.

All unvaccinated travelers from this designated category will still have to spend 21 days in hotel quarantine.


But vaccinated or not, they will still have to submit a negative test result obtained within 72 hours before boarding. In addition, those who spent only 14 days in quarantine will be subjected to three tests during their two-week quarantine, followed by a seven-day self-monitoring period, as well as compulsory testing on the 16th and 19th day of arrival at Hong Kong.

Only Ireland remains in the A2 status, meaning travelers from this country will have to quarantine for 21 days in a hotel, vaccinated or not.

At the same time, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam were relegated to Group B, with the government statement saying that this was because “of the persistent unstable epidemic situation in the region, as well as the prevalent transmission of cases involving the more transmissible and potentially more serious mutant virus strains.”

3 Asian countries are now down to B status because of 'unstable' Covid situation in region

As for the UK, which was moved up to Group A2 status from A1 only on May 7, the easing of restrictions was said to be due to the country’s rising vaccination rate and the absence of new imported cases from among its travelers.

"The government will continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation of various places, the prevalence of new virus variants, vaccination progress, and changes in the volume of cross-boundary passenger traffic, and will adjust the boarding and compulsory quarantine requirements for persons arriving at Hong Kong from relevant places as the situation warrants," the statement said.

With Hong Kong struggling to remain infection-free, meaning, not having any local case with unknown sources, lifting the flight ban on countries it considers as extremely high risk is not likely to come anytime soon.

While the Philippines has not experienced the unprecedented surge in cases as in India, where the total tally in the past two weeks was an incredible 3.08 million, Filipinos make up the biggest number of patients found to have brought in the highly feared coronavirus variant into Hong Kong.

The Philippines’ two-week tally is 79,664 cases while Indonesia, in comparison, has nearly the same number, at 76,291 cases. However, most Indonesians who test positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Hong Kong do not carry the variant, which experts say could be 70 times more infectious than the common strain.

South Africa, where the variant carried by most infected Filipinos was first found, is now down to a two-week tally of 45,342 cases. But Brazil, another earlier source of the mutated virus, still has a raging infection going on, with its 14-day total remaining at 887,877 cases.

Details on the grouping of specified places and their respective boarding and compulsory quarantine requirements can be found at


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