Hong Kong is opening up its borders after two years of strict Covid-19 rules. From Monday, travellers will no longer need to quarantine in designated hotels and will instead be required to undergo three days of home monitoring.
The announcement was made on Friday by Hong Kong's chief executive John Lee, who added that incoming travellers will no longer need a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of travel. Instead, they will need to present a negative Covid-19 result from a rapid antigen test conducted within 24 hours before the flight.
If they test negative for Covid-19 after three days, they will be allowed into venues such as restaurants and bars.
Travellers will still need to undergo several mandatory coronavirus tests on their fourth, sixth and seventh days.
For nearly two years, Hong Kong required overseas arrivals in the city to serve a period of mandatory quarantine in designated hotels. At one point, the city had among the world’s longest quarantine periods at 21 days of mandatory isolation.
The easing of measures comes as Hong Kong prepares to hold several high-profile events, including the Rugby Sevens tournament in November and an international banking summit.
As the rest of the world reopened, businesses urged Hong Kong authorities to come up with an exit strategy from the pandemic in order to remain competitive amid a brain drain as tens of thousands of residents left the city.
Several companies also moved their offices to countries like Singapore as they sought relief from the restrictions.
Lee said authorities will keep monitoring the situation to determine if further relaxation is possible.
Following the announcement, Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific said it intends to add more than 200 passenger flights in October to both regional and long-haul destinations.
"These adjustments will help boost sentiment for travel, thereby facilitating the gradual resumption of travel activities and strengthening of network connectivity to, from and through the Hong Kong aviation hub," it said.
"As Hong Kong’s home airline, we are fully committed to rebuilding the connectivity of the Hong Kong aviation hub. While we will continue to add back more flights as quickly as is feasible, it will take time to rebuild our capacity gradually."
Non-stop Cathay Pacific flights between Dubai and Hong Kong are also set to resume from October 2.
— Additional reporting by AP