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Beijing gives nod to ending hotel quarantine in HK

20 September 2022


CE Lee and State Council's Huang agree on the need to lift anti-Covid travel curbs soon

Hong Kong and Chinese officials today gave new hints that the three-day hotel quarantine and other travel curbs to prevent the spread of Covid-19, will be lifted soon.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee, speaking to media before he addressed today’s Executive Council meeting, stopped short of saying when this will happen, but he is scheduled to deliver his Policy Address next month.

“We will be actively monitoring the situation so that we will do this as quickly as possible,” Mr. Lee said. “I'm conscious of the fact that while we need to control the spread of the COVID, we also need to ensure that there will be maximum activities in society and economic activities for society to carry on.”


“… we are doing everything in that direction, and we will be announcing the measures once we've made decision about what we're going to do,” he added.

Mr. Lee cited the need to “do it in an orderly way.”

“We will reduce the inconvenience as much as we can because every step will involve deployment of resources to ensure we put the right amount of people and the right amount of support so as to ensure that things don't get disordered,” he added.


Lee’s statement drew support from Huang Liuquan, deputy director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, who said adjustments to pandemic measures are the right move.

Hong Kong authorities do not have to choose between opening up to the world and to the rest of the country, Huang told a media conference in Beijing.

This is the first major signal of Beijing’s blessings for the city to ease travel restrictions, according to the South China Morning Post.

Press for details

The Hong Kong government has been under pressure to lift the curbs, which have been blamed for the emigration of more than 100,000 residents, cancellation of international events such as the HK Marathon and the transfer to Bangkok of a dragon boat championship, and a $100 billion budget deficit due to a sluggish economy this year.

The latest to prod such action was a group of University of Hong Kong experts led by microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung, a top government advisor, who said Covid-19 has become endemic and poses less danger because Hong Kong has built a strong shield against severe cases through vaccination and natural infections.

In an article published today and reported by government broadcaster RTHK, the group said the Covid fatality rate from December 31 last year to September 14 stood at 0.59 percent.


But during the during the last four months, when social distancing measures were eased gradually, the fatality rate was even lower at  0.097 percent.

This, they said, indicated a need to relax anti-Covid measures such as sewage testing and lockdowns, so that life can return to normal.

Instead, a comprehensive monitoring system should be adopted to detect new variants of the coronavirus as soon as possible and infection control measures tightened.

The one thing that needs to continue is the wearing of face masks, they added.

"Face masks are very effective in reducing the risks of respiratory viral and bacterial infections," they said.

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