International travellers bound for Hong Kong no longer have to take a pre-flight Covid-19 test before they enter the city, starting April 1. The Centre for Health Protection updated its arrangements for ‘inbound travellers arriving from Taiwan or places outside China’ to state that “all pre-departure and post-arrival quarantine and testing requirements have been removed.” In addition, passengers do not need to fill out a health declaration form before they depart for the SAR.
These developments come after the government announced that it would not renew eight public health emergency regulations under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599) that expire on March 31. The regulations — Cap. 599C to Cap. 599J — cover a variety of epidemic control measures, such as restrictions on inbound travellers, quarantine requirements, compulsory testing, and social-distancing measures, among others.
According to the Centre for Health Protection website, all passengers who enter Hong Kong must only undergo temperature checks upon arrival. The government also recommends that visitors conduct self-administered rapid antigen tests for the first five days after they arrive and may voluntarily report their results and health status online.
In February, Hong Kong scrapped pre-departure testing requirements for visitors from Mainland China. However, travellers from Taiwan and overseas still had to undergo either a PCR test within 48 hours of their departure to Hong Kong or a RAT within 24 hours of leaving for the city and would only be allowed to board their flights if they tested negative for the virus.
The only Covid-related regulations that will continue to be in force are Cap. 599K (for vaccines) and Cap.599L (vaccine pass). In addition, the government will only administer the fourth Covid-19 booster for free to priority groups: people aged 50 and over, people aged 18-49 with comorbidities, those aged six months and over who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, and healthcare workers.
Hong Kong has steadily dismantled its anti-epidemic restrictions on inbound travel since last year, most notably by scrapping mandatory hotel quarantine in September 2022. Since then, the SAR has ended isolation for Covid-positive patients and lifted its mask mandate, as well as other measures.
The government is now focusing on making travel to the city attractive for tourists. In February, authorities launched the Hello Hong Kong campaign to encourage tourists to visit the city, the highlight of which is a 500,000 free airline ticket giveaway. In April, the city will begin its Happy Hong Kong initiative, which will include a series of events to introduce a sea-land carnival at Victoria Harbour and a gourmet marketplace in different parts of the city.
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