Hong Kong restricts inbound travelers, scraps COVID app

HONG KONG, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Hong Kong said international passengers entering the area would no longer be subject to COVID-19 movement controls or be barred from certain venues from Wednesday, and that there was also a mandatory mobile COVID-19 -Application scrapped .

News of further easing of COVID-19 curbs in the global financial hub, which is lagging behind in easing most of the world’s countries, could boost travel and business resumption.

A yellow code issued to international arrivals for the first three days in Hong Kong meant they were not allowed to eat or drink in bars and restaurants.

Beginning Wednesday, travelers and all residents arriving from overseas will be allowed entry to all locations provided they test negative for COVID-19 upon arrival, Chief Executive John Lee said in a televised briefing on Tuesday.

They are still required to show a photo or paper record of their COVID-19 vaccines in some places that require it, Health Minister Lo Chung-mau told a news conference, but arrivals are not subject to movement restrictions.

“After arriving in Hong Kong, there are no restrictions for international arrivals. So they can enter all premises on the same day they step off the plane,” Health Minister Lo Chung-mau said at a later press conference.

The government’s move to scrap its mobility-tracking app, which grants access to restaurants and venues like gyms, clubs and salons, comes after mainland China dropped the requirement.

Business groups, diplomats and many residents have criticized Hong Kong’s COVID-19 rules, saying they threaten its competitiveness and reputation as an international financial hub.

The rules have weighed on Hong Kong’s economy since early 2020, hastening the exodus of businesses, expatriates and local families who have left amid a push by Beijing to tighten control of the former British colony.

Hong Kong has closely followed China’s zero-COVID policy since 2020, but began gradually easing restrictions in August, shortening mandatory hotel quarantine to three days before lifting it in September, more than 2 1/2 years after the outbreak Virus, has been completely abolished.

The yellow code was the last remaining restriction for arrivals, who are still subject to a mandatory COVID-PCR test on arrival and thereafter.

Masks are still mandatory across the city unless they train. Group gatherings of more than 12 people are banned, but people can still go to nightclubs and attend banquets attended by hundreds of people.

Health Minister Lo added that infected patients who are self-isolating at home would no longer need to wear an electronic tag confining them to their place of residence.

reporting from Farah Master, Clare Jim and Twinnie Siu and Jessie Pang; Edited by Clarence Fernandez, Tom Hogue, Gerry Doyle and Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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