Riled up lawmakers demanded answers from health secretary Sophia Chan Friday morning, asking why actress Nicole Kidman was given a quarantine free pass upon arrival in Hong Kong to shoot her controversial TV series.
“Even our Olympic athletes coming back from the Tokyo Games had to quarantine for seven days,” lawmaker Michael Tien said during the Legislative Council’s panel on health services.
“Will all foreign celebrities who come to Hong Kong for filming from now on be exempt?” Tien asked. “If not, how do you explain that Nicole is superior?”
Not referring to Kidman by name, Chan said that a fixed itinerary must be stuck to during the duration of the stay in Hong Kong, and that there are strict rules to abide by.
“Are all Hollywood stars exempt? You’ve set a precedent,” Tien said.
Nicole Kidman’s quarantine exemption already has a Wikipedia entry pic.twitter.com/kSxlIoo74o
— Matthew Brooker (@mbrookerhk) August 19, 2021
When Tien asked how many people part of Kidman’s entourage were also exempted from quarantine, Chan said she did not have “specific details” but that the “number is extremely small.”
The government confirmed Wednesday that the Hollywood actress, who was flying to Hong Kong from Australia, was allowed to skip quarantine. News that Kidman was given the star treatment has provoked anger, a sentiment exacerbated by the fact that the Amazon TV series she’s here to film—about the city’s privileged, tight-knit expatriate community—appears tone deaf given the political landscape.
Lawmaker Priscilla Leung said she herself had to complete two quarantine stints and was unable to attend Legislative Council meetings then.
“I don’t know how we compare the work of lawmakers and celebrities coming to film,” Leung said, adding that this is “extremely unfair.”
The government said in a statement Thursday that the “case in discussion” was exempted from quarantine “for the purpose of performing designated professional work” that is “conducive to maintaining the necessary operation and development of Hong Kong’s economy.”
Kidman is reportedly staying at The Peak. She was spotted filming at the Peak School and in Sai Wan earlier this week, and a photo has also surfaced of her shopping at a designer boutique in Central.