HONG KONG: There was “unnecessary bother and discomfort” for Hong Kong residents, the government said on Thursday, suspending an individual flying restriction for COVID-19-infected travelers (Jul 7).
Flights have been restricted in the city more than 100 times this year.
Businesses and individuals who had become accustomed to the ease and efficiency of transit in the former British colony found the bans frustrating. Many inhabitants will be able to return home now that the ban on international flights has been lifted, allowing others to leave the country.
According to a government statement, the “circuit breaker mechanism” has a “social cost” and “unnecessary inconvenience” for international students and their families.
More than five people sick with the coronavirus would have resulted in a five-day flight ban for carriers. An air travel restriction that went into effect earlier this year restricted airline operations for a period of up to two weeks.
At least one week of quarantine is still necessary for all new arrivals.
The administration stated that it was working to “enhance” quarantine procedures in order to “enable the free movement of individuals vital for social and economic rehabilitation.”
Flight prohibitions and quarantine requirements have hurt Hong Kong’s ability to compete internationally, according to business leaders hopeful that the city’s incoming leader John Lee will lift the quarantine restrictions.
Hong Kong’s border has effectively been closed since 2020, and international arrivals are subject to severe quarantine and testing standards, according to eight business leaders. Lee has to reinvent the city, they added.