Hong Kong may allow conditional Covid-19 quarantine-free travel by November: Health chief

Arrivals could be subject to PCR testing and prohibited from attending high-risk venues such as bars. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong's new health chief said conditional quarantine-free travel could be allowed by November in time for a global bankers' summit to be held in the city.

The city does not need to follow mainland China's Covid-19 policies because it enjoys some degree of freedom under the "one country, two systems" principle, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau said in a South China Morning Post report on Wednesday (July 13).

"Is nothing required any more? I think that would be a bit tough," Dr Lo said in the interview. "At least PCR testing is needed. But does quarantine have to be confined to a fixed location?"

He floated a scenario where arrivals could be subject to PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and prohibited from attending high-risk venues such as bars.

The city is also planning a China-like health code system to manage social distancing. A yellow code will allow people to go to work but prohibit them from high-risk places such as aged-care homes or venues where masks are removed.

Dr Lo said he would still need to examine the latest data on the positive rate in Covid-19 tests submitted on the third day of hotel quarantine by overseas arrivals before he could decide on changes to the rules, SCMP said.

This could lead to moving to five days of hotel quarantine followed by two days of home isolation, or even just seven days of home isolation.

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