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Quarantine for arrivals cut, other measures extended

2022-01-27 HKT 19:27
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  • Quarantine for arrivals cut, other measures extended
The government announced on Thursday that it is cutting the quarantine period for people arriving from overseas from 21 days to 14, but school closures and other social distancing measures are being extended.

From February 5, people arriving in the territory can leave hotel quarantine after two weeks and spend the next week monitoring their health, with no restrictions on their movements.

Hong Kong’s 21-day quarantine mandate for overseas arrivals prompted repeated calls from business groups for a relaxation.

But at a press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government’s decision was based purely on science.

“Omicron’s incubation period is relatively short. So we have, based on this science, already shortened the quarantine period for close contacts of confirmed cases …from 21 days to 14 days, about a week ago,” she said.

“So there is no logic or no consistency if we still impose the 21 days on arrivals. They are not even close contacts. They are arrivals from a country which may have more transmissions.”

Despite this relaxation, flight bans imposed on eight countries, including the US and the UK, are being extended for another fortnight until February 18.

Also extended for two weeks until February 17 are various social distancing measures, such as a ban on night-time dining-in at restaurants, and the closure of certain types of premises including bars, cinemas and beauty parlours.

The suspension of face-to-face classes at schools will now last until February 21.

The CE said the government will ask Legco for an injection into the anti-epidemic fund to help affected businesses and individuals, but she did not mention any specific amount of money.

Lam also revealed that laws will be amended so that more indoor premises will be covered by the government’s Covid vaccine pass plan.

She said in future, unvaccinated people will be barred from entering these premises, adding that they won’t be able to apply to live in an elderly care home unless they are jabbed.

“The vaccine pass is to help encourage more people to be vaccinated. Because the effect of a vaccine pass is that if you have not been vaccinated, you will not be able to enter a lot of premises or engage in a lot of activities,” Lam said.

“We can also do it for the government premises, so entry into the Tamar [Government] Office, the LCSD libraries will... be subject to the vaccine pass.”

The CE said the government’s target is to get 90 percent of residents to have at least one Covid jab.