The government announced on Friday that Hong Kong will abolish its quarantine policies for locally based airline crew starting on Saturday. This is an important step in rolling back the strict COVID-19 regulations that have isolated the Asian financial powerhouse.
According to the new rules, airport-based air crew members can leave for home after they receive a negative nucleic acid test result, it was announced in a statement. Previously, air crew had to spend three nights in quarantine at a hotel before going home.
Due to the stringent constraints imposed by the legislation, many airlines, including Virgin and British Airways, had to halt operations in the Chinese Special Administrative Region. Due to the substantially reduced operations of other airlines, getting into or out of the city has become quite challenging.
Since more than two and a half years ago, Hong Kong has maintained strong border controls with both the mainland and the rest of the globe, adhering to China’s “zero-COVID” policy of putting an end to outbreaks as soon as they start.
The 7.3 million-person city depends significantly on international trade and travel; as a result, the limitations have hurt its economy and caused tens of thousands of residents to leave.
The new rule “will effectively facilitate airlines to enhance flight services between Hong Kong and other parts of the world, and enable Hong Kong to play its role as an international aviation hub,” the government said.
The government announced in a separate statement on Friday that temperature screening will no longer be required of travelers leaving Hong Kong.
The city’s COVID-19 regulations have come under fire from business organizations, diplomats, and many locals who claim they endanger Hong Kong’s competitiveness and position as a major financial hub.
In most areas of Hong Kong, masks are required, and groups larger than four persons are not allowed.
More than 1.5 million COVID infections and 9,769 fatalities have been recorded in Hong Kong since the pandemic started.