HONG KONG - The Hong Kong government has moved to tighten restrictions for entry into the territory.
From Friday (Nov 13), all arrivals other than those from mainland China will have to undergo 14-days of quarantine in a hotel instead of a residential property.
Currently, the rule only applies to people arriving from 15 countries deemed to be at high risk.
The new rules are separate from the travel bubble arrangement agreed between Singapore and Hong Kong, which begins on Nov 22.
Hong Kong Health Secretary Sophia Chan on Wednesday (Nov 11) announced the tightened restrictions, saying people will be able to choose their own hotel and will need to pay for it themselves.
She said the tighter restriction was necessary to ensure that those who returned to the city would not infect others during quarantine.
In a one-way deal pushed for by the government, Hong Kong residents who return to the territory from either Guangdong or Macau will be exempt from mandatory quarantine from Nov 23. But they must test negative for Covid-19 and register with the Hong Kong government in advance.
Residents who visit Guangdong or Macau will still face the required 14-day quarantine on arrival as Chief Executive Carrie Lam failed to get more concessions from mainland authorities or persuade them to lift the requirement.
Under the "Return to Hong Kong" scheme, the daily quota for arrivals is capped at 5,000 people, with up to 3,000 allowed to enter through the Shenzhen Bay border crossing and the rest via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
On Wednesday, the director of special duties at the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, Tommy Yuen, said the quota could be lifted eventually to allow all eligible people to enter at will.
"Having a quota there is simply because of our wish to ensure that the boundary control points are handled or operated in an orderly manner without overcrowding or increasing the health or exposure risk in that area," he said.
"Once the operation of this scheme is smooth and in place, technically, if the boundary control points are smooth sailing all round, there will be no need for any quota at all," said Mr Yuen.
Those who return to Hong Kong need to register online in advance and, to skip quarantine, must show proof of being Covid-free in the past three days. They can do so at one of 39 recognised medical facilities in Guangdong or one of four in Macau.