Hong Kong to remove some of its last COVID-19 restrictions

COVID-19 movement controls on travellers and restrictions on some venues among measures being dropped by Hong Kong

Starting on Wednesday (December 14) international passengers coming to Hong Kong will no longer be restricted in their movements or denied entry to bars and restaurants, provided they test negative for COVID-19 on arrival (however, some places may still require proof of vaccination). In addition, the requirement of scanning the LeaveHomeSafe (LHS) venue QR code before entering premises has been lifted, part of a number of COVID-19 restrictions being scaled back.

International travellers are automatically placed on the ‘Blue Code’, meaning any restriction of entering restaurants, bars and other premises will be lifted. However, some places are still required to comply with the vaccination requirements. This applies to all incoming passengers who have tested negative for COVID-19, infected individuals will still be placed on the ‘Red Code’, with relevant restrictions applied. They are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival, and on Day two, as well as Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) daily until day five.

Secretary for Health Lo Chung-Mau also revealed that COVID-19 tests at border control points for persons travelling to the Mainland or Macau have been scrapped. Travellers will still be required to obtain a negative PCR test (withing 48 hours) for entry into Mainland China and Macau, PCR tests are also required for arrivals in Hong Kong, and RATs are necessary for school students.

On Sunday (December 11), when Lee announced the government’s intention to examine all of Hong Kong’s Covid safety protocols, including the LeaveHomeSafe (LHS) app, the city began to take steps toward change. The LHS app no longer needs to be scanned before entering premises (including government buildings) and premise operators are no longer required to display LHS venue QR codes. However, the LHS mobile application functions such as storing Vaccine Pass, Testing Registration Code and testing records can still be used.

Vaccine Pass arrangement remains unchanged particularly for premises that present a higher risk of transmission (such as restaurants and bars), and members of the public are required to show their vaccine status to premises operators. In addition, the requirements for RATs (including arrangements applicable to bars/pubs and banquet activities) will remain unchanged.

Regular testing of target groups has also been streamlined, with regular testing only applying to high-risk groups (such as Hospital Authority staff, staff members of residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) and residential care homes for persons with disabilities (RCHDs)). The Government is simultaneously decreasing the number of mandatory testing orders given to residential buildings and will do away with the testing protocol for imported frozen food. The Government will analyse the necessity of community testing and adjust the quantity and hours of CTCs/CTSs as needed.

The government has also removed the requirement for infected persons to wear electronic wristband, though will continue to distribute anti-epidemic kits to infected persons and conduct random calls and spot checks.

This follows further easing of restrictions announced last week, when it was decided that those who test positive for Covid and their close contacts will be allowed to end their mandatory isolation period earlier, and travellers from abroad will only be required to take two quick tests instead of the usual amount.