Coronavirus: Hotel quarantine during overseas layovers scrapped for Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong-based aircrew

Locally-based aircrew with Hong Kong’s flag carrier will no longer be required to quarantine at a hotel during overseas layovers as part of the latest easing of coronavirus curbs, Cathay Pacific Airways has said.

The company revealed that the revised policies, which took effect on Tuesday, also prohibited aircrew from Hong Kong from taking part in mask-off activities, mass gatherings or going to crowded venues during layovers.

“These adjustments are positive developments for our pilots and cabin crew, who have endured stringent Covid-19-related operating constraints over the past two and a half years,” a company spokesman said.

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“While we will continue to add back more flights as quickly as is feasible, it will still take time to rebuild our capacity,” he added.

No more quarantine: Hong Kong visitors happy to find eased Covid travel rules

The decision followed the launch of the government’s “0+3” entry scheme last week, which scrapped the mandatory hotel quarantine period for inbound travellers in favour of three days of medical surveillance.

The new measures revealed on Tuesday also allow aircrew on “turnaround” flights, journeys that do not include a layover period, to leave the airport after taking a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The move will only apply if personnel on such flights have not undergone any previous layovers in the past seven days before returning to Hong Kong. Those who do not meet the requirement must stay at the airport to await their PCR test results.

Flight staff are also required to take PCR tests in the first four days after arrival, but do not need to produce a log of their activities in the city for their employer.

Hong Kong is finally axing hotel quarantine – here’s what you need to know

But an internal Cathay email seen by the Post said aircrew would still need to conduct a pre-departure rapid antigen test, with such screenings also required during the three days after arriving in Hong Kong.

Those returning from all locations aside from mainland China must also undergo three days of medical surveillance, but were exempt from restrictions imposed when issued an amber status as part of the city’s health code system, it said.

Under the health code system, recipients of an amber status can attend their places of work and studies but are prohibited from entering any premises covered by the city’s vaccine pass requirement, such as bars and restaurants.

Cathay said it welcomed the government’s decision to grant the airline increased flexibility to operate more flights and strengthen Hong Kong’s connectivity as an aviation hub.

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