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By The Way
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Hong Kong cuts strict quarantine orders for travelers to 14 days

The new quarantine, a week shorter than Hong Kong’s previous order, reflects recent research on omicron

(Tyrone Siu/Reuters)
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HONG KONG — Authorities in Hong Kong said Thursday that they will shorten mandatory quarantine requirements for incoming travelers from 21 to 14 days, easing a policy that some say was chipping away at the city’s status as an international financial hub.

Starting Feb. 5, all arrivals will be subjected to a 14-day hotel quarantine, followed by seven days of self-monitoring at home without curbs on movement but with two days of mandatory testing. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the measures would “ensure consistencies” and were based on science after experts found the omicron variant’s incubation period to be “relatively short.”

Hong Kong’s 21-day quarantine has in recent months pushed businesses and expatriates to relocate, unwilling to bear the mental and financial costs of the restrictions. It has also added to the cost of operating in Hong Kong, and Western chambers of commerce say the policy made the city a less attractive place for businesses.

On Thursday, Hong Kong reported 164 new coronavirus cases, the highest number in a single day since January 2020.

The government has been following a strict “dynamic zero-infection” strategy since late December, a “mainland strategy requirement” to cut transmission chains and stop the virus from spreading. Additional measures, such as flight bans on eight countries considered high-risk — including the United States and Britain — will be extended until Feb 18. Social distancing curbs, including the closure of gyms, bars and salons, will remain in place for the next two weeks. Starting in late February, vaccination passes will also be required to enter most indoor venues and government facilities.

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