Hong Kong tightens Covid rules in attempt to stop Omicron invasion

With China continuing to enforce a zero-Covid strategy, at least until after the Beijing winter Olympics and Chinese New Year are over, Hong Kong has introduced even tougher Covid rules for anyone visiting the region. Hong Kong already had some of the strictest isolation rules in the world for residents and outsiders.

Michael Hughes, claims executive at Standard Club, wrote that the Government of Hong Kong declared in a series of announcements that non-Hong Kong residents would not be permitted entry to the Hong Kong region if they had visited any of a variety of further countries within 21 days. This month it had added Cape Verde, Niger, South Sudan, Grenada, Mauritania and Mayotte, Iraq, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Laos, Mongolia and the Solomon Islands to the Group A list of high risk places.

Seafarers were not exempted for Group A list of countries unless they were Hong Kong residents.

Hong Kong residents who had visited these countries within 21 days would only be permitted to fly to Hong Kong if they had been fully vaccinated and held a recognized Covid-19 jab record. On arrival they then have to enter 21-day quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel. During the quarantine period six virus tests must be conducted and, on the 26th day of arrival in Hong Kong, they must also undergo compulsory testing in a community testing centre.

The Hong Kong Government is updating the city’s Prevention & Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances & Travellers) Regulation to reflect these changes.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam claimed to have discussed a “travel bubble” with Macau. Cruises have been suspended.

Authorities announced 38 new cases of Covid-19 last Wednesday. Businesses ordered closed include bars and pubs, nightclubs, fitness centres, theme parks, museums, party rooms, beauty parlours, swimming pools, bathhouses, game centres, karaoke rooms, sports premises, Chinese-style gambling establishments (mah-jong and tin kau), event and performance venues, and cinemas. Public admission to Happy Valley race track was halted. Admission for the race meeting was limited to Stewards, Voting Members, Owners, Members and their guests who have made advance bookings.”

There are also restrictions on the number of people that can be seated at tables in restaurants, while public hospital and nursing home visits have been suspended.

Local tours and “cruise to nowhere” sailings by Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean have been halted after a Royal Caribbean cruise was ordered back to port due to nine passengers being identified as a close contact of a confirmed Omicron case.

Hong Kong announced a 14-day ban on all flights from eight countries from January 8th – Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the UK and the US.

Carrie Lam said that “we will take bold and stringent measures so that within a very short period of time we can contain the Omicron variant. This time we are being very swift and heavy-handed right at the beginning because we want businesses to open during Lunar New Year and we want to resume talks with mainland China on cross-border travel.”