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Employment agencies say no August lifting of flight ban expected

26 July 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

He never said the ban will be lifted for sure in August, the agency head clarifies

If you are among the thousands of foreign domestic workers hoping for Hong Kong to lift its flight ban on “extremely high-risk” countries by next month, you’d better not raise your hopes high.

According to the head of an employment agencies union, the much-hyped reopening of Hong Kong to vaccinated travelers from designated A1 places by early August month, was all a misunderstanding.


Thomas Chan, chair of the HK Union of Employment Agencies, said that in his radio interview in mid-July, he mentioned early to mid-August as the likely dates when vaccinated foreign domestic helpers could come, once the government decided to lift the ban.

“When they were asking how many workers might come after they finished vaccination, I told them that according to my knowledge, in the Philippines, only less than 10% of those stranded had been vaccinated, and most workers started their first dose only last month. If we wait for them to finish two doses, I expect the first batch of workers might come in mid-August if the government will really give the green light to workers,” said Chan.

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“Please pay attention to the last sentence: if the government gives the green light.”

His statement, which somehow got twisted in the reporting by some local media outlets, prompted recruitment agencies in the Philippines to tell stranded workers to get vaccinated immediately, as they could be leaving for Hong Kong soon.


But lately, not a few have griped that despite getting Covid-19 vaccines that are still  hard to come by in the Philippines, they have yet to get confirmation on when they could actually fly out. Some complained about getting confused by the conflicting stories they hear from Hong Kong.

Congen Tejada was told vaccinated workers will get to come in first, but no date was given

Earlier, Consul General Raly Tejada told The SUN that Hong Kong was considering lifting the ban on vaccinated travelers from the eight countries categorized as extremely high risk, including the Philippines. But no date was given when this might be.


Congen Tejada said the Consulate asked Hong Kong officials to reexamine the Philippines’ inclusion in the banned places, given the recent drop in the country’s infection rate, and the corresponding increase in its vaccination rate.

The local officials reportedly agreed that residents and workers need to come back, but did not indicate how soon this could be acted upon.


Meanwhile, Chan said his group is meeting with Consulate officials tomorrow to discuss concerns raised by Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong with regards to allowing FDHs from the Philippines to come in.

This, Chan said, include centralizing the issuance of vaccination records, assuring the credibility of the Philippine institutions overseeing testing for Covid-19, and coming up with measures to prevent infected cases from entering Hong Kong.

Those who will meet with them are top Consulate officers who sit with a Technical Working Group made up of representatives from key Hong Kong government agencies on the other side.

Chan said that because of the record number of infections in Indonesia recently, agencies are focusing on getting those coming from the Philippines to enter Hong Kong first.

Apart from the Philippines and Indonesia, the other countries in the A1 category are India, Pakistan, Nepal, United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

Compared to at least three countries on this list – UK, Indonesia and India - where daily Covid-19 cases have gone past 50,000 because of the highly infectious Delta variant, the Philippines is doing much better, statistics-wise. Its daily tally has hovered around 5,000 in the past few days. 

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