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Quarantine-free entry for diplomats now limited to consuls-general

01 November 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

For the Philippine Consulate, only Consul General Raly Tejada retains his quarantine exemption

Hong Kong has tightened the quarantine exemptions for certain people arriving from overseas, particularly officers and staff of foreign consulates and senior finance executives.

From Nov 12, only consuls general or representatives in Hong Kong at equivalent or higher level (as well as their family members) will be allowed go on home isolation when arriving from overseas.

All other consular and diplomatic officers who had stayed overseas within 21 days before arrival will now have to self-isolate at designated quarantine hotels. The removal of the quarantine exemption also applies to finance executives.

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The only ones who will continue to get the quarantine exemption are those that provide essential services such as cross-boundary goods vehicle drivers, crew members of aircraft and cargo vessels and certain designated government officials.

Previously, even ordinary staff at the consulates, including the newly arrived personnel at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, were allowed to isolate at home instead of spending their quarantine at designated hotels.

In a statement issued today, Nov 1, the government cited two imported cases involving consulate staff and their family members who were recently confirmed with Covid-19 infection while they were supposed to be on home isolation.


The first case involved a Saudi Arabian consular staff whose three children who flew in from Riyadh tested positive for the mutated coronavirus days after arriving in Hong Kong. Investigations showed the children had left their home in Taikoo Shing while supposedly on home quarantine.

The second more recent case involved a diplomat from Russia who also tested positive for the L452R strain. He said he did not leave his home during the prescribed self-isolation period.

The government said, “The new measures will strengthen the prevention of importation of cases and tackle the threat posed by mutant strains by further minimizing the chance of transmission of the virus from imported cases into the community so as to foster favourable conditions for resuming cross-boundary travel with the Mainland and cross-border travel in future."


Those who are allowed to retain their exemption status are reminded that if they breach the quarantine rules their exemption status will be revoked, and they will be transferred to quarantine centres.

In addition, all exempted persons are subject to medical surveillance during the exemption period. Anyone who violates the conditions of their medical surveillance will be liable to a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment for six months.

A vendor looks at the QR code for Java Road Market, which was largely ignored today

Also part of the stricter regulations is the compulsory use of the LeaveHomeSafe app starting today, Nov. 1, for those entering government premises, including indoor wet markets and cooked food stalls.

Only those aged 12 and below or 65 and above, or those with mental incapacity that prevents them using the app, are still allowed to write down their personal details on pieces of paper for contract tracing.


However, enforcement at some of the indoor markets was noticeably lax today, despite the posting of visible notices at the venue entrances, which are guarded by staff at the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Earlier, the FEHD said it would focus on education and information in the initial stage of the implementation to ensure visitors at the venue are suitably informed about the new regulation.

Meanwhile, only one imported case of Covid-19 was reported today, involving a 56-year-old male air crew from Russia who arrived via SV982 on Oct. 23.

He tested positive for the coronavirus with the L452R mutant strain at Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre where he was moved after being identified as a close contact of a previously confirmed case.

He took Hong Kong’s total Covid-19 tally to 12,347 confirmed cases.

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