Quarantine for double-jabbed residents returning to Hong Kong will be cut to seven days at the end of the month, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced at a press conference Monday.
Overseas arrivals must take an antibody test which, if returned positive, means they will spend just one week quarantining in a designated hotel instead of 14, which is the current policy for vaccinated residents returning from most countries.
The relaxed requirement, which takes effect June 30, will apply to those arriving from places designated under the government’s Group B list. The category includes over two dozen countries, among them France, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, the UK, and the US.
“It is time for us to appropriately re-open our border,” said Lam, adding that the government is looking to ease travel arrangements with Macau and mainland China, the latter via the “Come2HK” scheme which will allow non-Hong Kong residents in Guangdong province to travel to the city without quarantining.
At the moment, vaccinated Hong Kong residents arriving in the city have to spend 21 days in quarantine, including 14 days in a designated hotel and the last week at home.
The long-awaited announcement comes as a relief for many Hong Kong residents, who have complained that the government has not sufficiently loosened travel restrictions despite the outbreak being under control.
Lam also announced the relaxation of social distancing restrictions, including allowing Group D restaurants—meaning all staff are fully vaccinated—to operate at 100% capacity with up to 12 people at a table.
“People are urging for more social activities. Businesses are crying for business turnover,” Lam furthered. “We will still appeal for vaccination, but the time has come for us to allow social activities.”
Hong Kong has recorded just one linked local case in the past 28 days. Close to 1.3 million people, or 19% of the population, are fully vaccinated.