Hong Kong to decide on further Covid relaxation 'soon', says city leader

Residents and businesses decry quarantine rules that have kept the finance hub cut off for more than two years



Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

By AFP

Published: Tue 20 Sep 2022, 12:46 PM

Hong Kong's leader on Tuesday said he will soon make a decision on further relaxing coronavirus restrictions, as residents and businesses decry quarantine rules that have kept the finance hub cut off for more than two years.

"We will make a decision soon and announce to the public," chief executive John Lee told reporters.

"We want to be connected with the different places in the world. We would like to have an orderly opening up," he added.

Lee's comments came as a senior Chinese official also signalled support for an easing of the curbs during a rare briefing.

"It's normal for the Hong Kong government to adjust and improve Hong Kong's anti-epidemic measures accordingly," Huang Liuquan, deputy director of China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told reporters in Beijing.

Hong Kong has adhered to a strict rules throughout the pandemic. It maintains mandatory hotel quarantine for international arrivals -- currently at three days -- widespread masking, business operating limits and bans on more than four people gathering in public.

Lee, a Beijing-anointed former security chief, took office in July and vowed to reopen the city while keeping cases low.

Over the past week multiple Hong Kong media outlets have reported, citing sources, that the government has already agreed to lift quarantine.

Lee would not confirm that decision or commit to a firm timeline on Tuesday.

But his comments were the strongest indication yet that Hong Kong is planning to join much of the rest of the world in accepting endemicity. It has seen multiple events cancelled by organisers citing the uncertain pandemic controls -- including most recently next year's World Dragon Boat Championships which will be held in Thailand instead.

Hong Kong is planning to host a banking summit and the Rugby Sevens in November, although under current rules players in the latter will have to stay in a "closed loop" bubble.

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