HONG KONG (Bloomberg): Hong Kong will shorten quarantine periods for fully vaccinated inbound travelLers and residents who are close contacts of people infected with Covid-19, the South China Morning Post reported, easing one of the world’s strictest policies amid efforts to encourage inoculation.
The newspaper did not elaborate on how long the new quarantine periods would be.
Hong Kong currently requires a mandatory 21-day hotel quarantine for many arrivals, and two weeks for people coming from a handful of low-risk countries including Australia and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, residents found to be close contacts of people infected with Covid must undergo a 14-day quarantine in government facilities, rising to three weeks when the cases involve new variants.
The quarantine easing is the Asian financial centre’s latest step to incentivise vaccinations as its rollout is impeded by a lack of trust in the Beijing-backed government and concerns about the efficacy of Chinese shots. Low inoculation rates could hamper Hong Kong’s efforts to reach fully reopen its economy and dilute its attractiveness to global businesses.
Only about 13.6% of the population has received at least one dose, according to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker -- lagging behind competing financial hubs like Singapore, which has a rate of 23.9%.
Authorities have in recent weeks sent all residents of several buildings where cases with variants were found to quarantine for 21 days -- including those who had been fully vaccinated or tested negative. The decision fuelled long-simmering frustration over what many in the city see as a confusing and inconsistent virus policy, with residents questioning why they would be sent to quarantine despite being fully inoculated.
Steps to incentivise vaccination include reopening bars and nightclubs only to inoculated people and allowing them to gather in larger groups at restaurants. A travel bubble with Singapore set for end of the month will also allow only vaccinated people.