Quarantine exemptions to disappear from Nov 12

The government has confirmed that it will end Covid quarantine exemptions for all but a handful of groups from November 12, in a bid to resume quarantine-free travel with the mainland as quickly as possible.

At the moment some travellers from overseas, such as senior finance executives, can avoid the 21-day quarantine if the government considers their activities to be in the interest of Hong Kong’s economic development.

Chief Secretary John Lee said on Monday that only essential government workers, truck and bus drivers, as well as air and ship crews would be able to avoid quarantine in future.

He also said that consular staff will have to spend their quarantine period in hotels, instead of self-isolating at home.

“We have, previously, cases involving consulate staff. We actually had two cases in which the consulate staff or their family members were infected,” Lee told reporters, adding that one consulate worker had also been suspected of flouting quarantine rules.

Lee didn’t directly respond to questions on whether central government officials, such as liaison office workers, would be exempt from the tighter quarantine rules, saying only that government staff will be allowed to travel quarantine-free for government operations.

He stressed that the changes will help when it comes to talks with Beijing on lifting border restrictions.