Tougher quarantine rules to take effect on Friday

The government says its new boarding, quarantine and testing requirements for people arriving from overseas will take effect from midnight on Friday, while renewing its existing social-distancing measures for the SAR.

The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, said at her weekly press briefing on Tuesday that the government is following experts’ advice to “err on the side of caution” in light of the Delta coronavirus variant.

In a statement released late on Tuesday, the government spelled out the details of the changes, saying the changes were prompted by growing evidence that the Delta variant could still be spread by fully vaccinated people.

It said government advisers had concluded that ” the compulsory quarantine period can only be shortened to 14 days at most, even if the persons arriving at Hong Kong were fully vaccinated and possess positive serology antibody test results.”

The statement said people who’ve been in high-risk countries could only fly to Hong Kong if they were fully vaccinated SAR residents. Once in Hong Kong, they had to quarantine for 21 days, undergo six tests and self-monitor for a further seven days and be tested at a community testing centre 26 days after landing in the SAR.

Unvaccinated Hong Kong residents arriving from medium-risk countries faced 21 days in quarantine, including six tests.

But vaccinated people arriving from medium-risk countries face 14 days quarantine, four tests, and must self-monitor for a further seven days. They also have to undergo tests on the 16th and 19th day after arriving, the statement said.

People arriving from low-risk countries face 14 days quarantine, including four tests, and have to self-monitor four another seven days. They also have to be tested again on the 16th and 19th day after arriving.

The government also said it planned to maintain most of the social distancing measures for another two weeks until September 1.

“The global Covid-19 epidemic situation is under serious threat from the Delta variant, with acute surges in the number of confirmed cases within a short period of time in many countries. spite large-scale vaccination programmes, many places are also experiencing resurgence of the virus, which poses enormous challenges to our local anti-epidemic efforts,” A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said in a statement.

While more people had been getting coronavirus inoculations, the vaccination rate for the elderly was still low, the spokesman added.

The spokesman said staff of catering businesses who have not been vaccinated would be tested every seven days – up from every 14 days.