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Employment agencies urge CE to lift travel ban, cut quarantine for FDHs

19 March 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap


The big drop in the FDH population is blamed on the flight ban and strict anti-pandemic rules (File)

A group of employment agencies has joined the chorus to get Chief Executive Carrie Lam to reconsider some of the government’s anti-pandemic measures, particularly those concerning foreign domestic helpers.

Thomas Chan, chairperson of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, says his group has written a letter to CE Lam to ask, among other things, to reduce the hotel quarantine for incoming FDHs to seven days, plus seven days of home observation.

His group is also urging the government to immediately lift the travel ban on nine countries, including the Philippines, which sends the most number of FDHs to Hong Kong; and cancel the flight suspension scheme for airlines that bring in a number of infected passengers.


The HKUEA’s letter is among several sent to CE Lam lately, urging her to ease restrictions on travel and social distancing to prevent the city becoming further isolated from the rest of the world.

A well-regarded study by the Hong Kong University also predicted that about half of the city’s population had already been infected by the coronavirus by the middle of this month, so there was no more need to pursue a strict containment policy.

CE Lam has responded to the clamor by saying that she was reconsidering the strict anti-pandemic restrictions and will announce new measures either Sunday or Monday. This was despite her earlier pronouncement that all the restrictions will remain in place until Apr 20, including the flight ban.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Chan pointed out that even the Centre for Health Protection has relaxed its treatment protocol for infected patients. Once they test negative on the sixth and seventh day from testing positive, they could end their isolation without informing authorities.

He pointed out the FDHs who are in quarantine are not even positive cases. In fact, they would have tested negative at least four times on their seventh day: prior to boarding their flight to Hong Kong, on their arrival, and on days 6 and 7 of their hotel quarantine.


“How ridiculous it is that an infected person can go free after seven days while a healthy person must remain under quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

Chan says it's ridiculous to keep healthy people under 14-day quarantine

But to further allay concerns that the FDHs might be harboring the virus for some reason, Chan said his group is willing to require their recruits to undergo a booster shot if at least three months have lapsed since they had their second dose.

Chan said the highly restrictive policy adopted by the government towards the entry of FDHs has led to a severe shortfall in their number.


Such restrictions included designating only two or three quarantine facilities for thousands of FDHs waiting to come in; and frequent cancellation of flights from the Philippines and Indonesia, the two biggest suppliers of migrant workers in the city, because they brought in a number of infected travelers.

Chan cited Immigration figures showing that the FDH population has dropped to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

“From the latest figure released in February by Immigration, the total number of FDHs reached its lowest at 332,184 from almost 400,000 two years ago, a drop of 67,816 or 17%,” he said.

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In the last five months alone, or from November last year to the end of February, he said the figure fell by 17,866.

As if the strict anti-pandemic restrictions were not enough, Chan said Immigration also implemented the discriminatory policy of rejecting new visa applications by FDHs on the ground that they were job-hopping, or leaving their employment on a whim.

He said nearly 8,000 migrant workers failed to get new employment visas on this basis alone last year.

Another reason for the decline in the number of FDHs that he cited is third-country recruitment. “Workers are going to Europe or Canada for higher pay if compared with Hong Kong’s wages,” he said.

Still another reason was that because of the long wait they were made to endure, may workers decided to just cancel their applications to Hong Kong and opted to go to places in the Middle East, Taiwan or Singapore.


Uncertain of when they might be able to go for a vacation again in their home countries, many other FDHs who were already in Hong Kong have decided to go home for good.

Chan said HKUEA’s letter was also sent to Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong, Secretary for Health Sophia Chan and Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung.

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