Hong Kong to lift flight ban from 9 countries

Hong Kong’s government announced Monday that the city will reopen international flights from the United States, Britain and seven other countries.

The city, as quoted by the AFP news agency, has implemented some of the strictest COVID-19-related restrictions in the world.

During the outbreak of the new wave of COVID-19 triggered by the Omicron variant, the financial hub city struggled to maintain the zero-COVID policy implemented by the Chinese Government.

After the outbreak of the highly contagious variant sparked a new wave of infection cases in January, authorities immediately banned flights from eight countries deemed high risk. Countries on the list include the United States (US), Britain, France and India. In February, Hong Kong added a ninth country, namely Nepal.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to questions from reporters during a press conference in Hong Kong, China, March 21, 2022. (Photo: Vincent Yu/Pool via Reuters)

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to questions from reporters during a press conference in Hong Kong, China, March 21, 2022. (Photo: Vincent Yu/Pool via Reuters)

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced Monday that the city would lift its flight ban, also known as a “power cut”.circuit breaker)” for the nine countries.

“The power breaker…now is not on time,” Lam told a news conference.

“The epidemic situation in these countries is no worse than Hong Kong and most of the visitors who come don’t show any serious symptoms. Extending the “power cut” will add to the worries and anxieties of Hong Kong residents who are adrift there,” he said.

The quarantine period for air passengers who have been vaccinated has also been reduced to seven days at designated hotels. After seven days, the process continued with home supervision for another seven days. Lam did not say when the policy change would take effect.

Currently, Hong Kong residents returning from most overseas destinations must undergo a two-week quarantine in expensive hotels.

The number of cases of COVID-19 infection in Hong Kong is climbing rapidly. The city has recorded more than 1 million cases and 5,600 deaths, most of which afflict the unvaccinated elderly population. [ft/rs]