Hong Kong citizens will be able to come back of 9 countries banned as of April 1, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced.
Fully vaccinated Hongkongers will be able to return from the US, Canada, UK, France, Australia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines from April 1.
So far, inbound travelers have had to spend at least 14 days in China or Macau in order to enter Hong Kong.
Returning citizens must continue to provide evidence of a negative PCR test upon arrival in Hong Kong and undergo a mandatory 7-day hotel quarantine.
Classes will resume on April 19 while social restrictions, such as collection of limits, the mandatory use of face coverings and restrictions on the opening hours of establishments, will be relaxed in three stages from April 20.
This new type of different Covid-19 roadmap is open to further revisions, Lam said.
“People may be desensitized to positive Covid numbers,” she said. “I urge members of the public to be more patient with this schedule and script. As long as the trend is falling in four weeks, we can resume normal life.”
The change in Hong Kong policy comes as a growing number of Asian countries are opening their borders and easing, if not abolishing, travel restrictions.
According to a recent survey by the International Air Transport Association, half of the top 50 markets are now open to vaccinated travelers, with no need for quarantine or testing.
This only partially includes the 24 nations that have already removed all Covid-related travel and domestic restrictions.
The harsh reality is that Hong Kong residents are fleeing en masse due to the city’s long-standing draconian restrictions.
According to Reuters, a network of more than 54,000 people left Hong Kong this month, up from 71,000 in February.
According to a respected polling agency, about a quarter of Hong Kong residents intends to leave the city permanently due to concerns about a lack of personal freedoms and a deteriorating political climate.
In a survey of 6,723 Hong Kong residents conducted by the Hong Kong Opinion Research Institute (PORI) from March 21 to 24, 24% of respondents said they would definitely emigrate.
Meanwhile, another 21% said they were preparing or planning, but were not yet ready to emigrate.