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HK to cut quarantine exemptions, maintain strict anti-Covid-19 rules

26 October 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

CE Lam with her right arm in a sling after a bad fall, talks to reporters 

Quarantine exemptions given by Hong Kong to various groups of people, including business executives, diplomats and airline crew will be whittled down, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced today, Oct 26.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, Mrs Lam said the quarantine-free entry will be limited to those providing emergency services to people in Hong Kong, including cross-border truck drivers that deliver food to the city.

She said the move is being taken to speed up the reopening of the border with the Mainland, but did not mention any time frame.

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“At the beginning of last year, in relation to exempted groups of quarantine-free personnel, most of these will be removed,” she said.

“We will leave only those relating to emergency services or services relating to the everyday supplies and logistics of Hong Kong, for example, cross-boundary truck drivers…this is to give confidence to the central authorities that it is safe to open the border.”

The tightening of quarantine restrictions is just one way to further strengthen anti-pandemic measures so they are aligned with those in the Mainland, said Mrs Lam.


Another step being taken is to require all those entering government premises to use the LeaveHomeSafe starting next month. Health authorities say this will strengthen contact tracing as many of those who opt to list down their personal details in lieu of using the app give false, or incomplete, information.

Mrs Lam makes it clear reopening borders with the Mainland is top priority

Mrs Lam made it clear that easing the quarantine restrictions for travelers from overseas take a backseat to the need to reopen the border with the Mainland.


“If Hong Kong were to loosen the border controls for people arriving from overseas or adopt what other countries have done - so-called “to live with the Covid-19 virus”- then the chances of resuming travel with the Mainland will be reduced. This is a very simple hypothesis, and I can only say to those representing the financial sector that we have to look at it in context,” she said.

Hong Kong’s primary advantage, according to her, lies in being the gateway to Mainland China. If business people based in Hong Kong are not able to enter China freely, then it  will significantly reduce the city’s attraction as international business hub and an international financial centre, she said.

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Time spent under quarantine could only be shortened if the global situation stabilizes or if the confirmed number of cases in a particular country where the traveler comes from goes down, said Mrs Lam. However, the current Covid-19 situation is far from stable globally.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection reported three new imported cases today, involving arrivals from Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

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The 65-year-old male patient from Singapore and the 29-year-old woman from UEA were both found to carry the L452R mutant strain on their arrival in Hong Kong on Oct. 24.

The variant test result for the 28-year-old woman from Pakistan who was found infected  on her third-day sample is still pending.

The three cases took Hong Kong’g total tally to 12,330.

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