Hong Kong Axes Almost All Covid-19 Restrictions After 3 Years

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Hong Kong will scrap almost all coronavirus restrictions from December 29, BBC reported citing Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu.

Although the mask mandate remains valid, inbound travelers will no longer have to do a PCR test and will not be subject to quarantine requirements. In addition, a complete vaccination cycle with three doses would no longer be necessary, the authorities said. Moreover, the former British colony would also remove the mandatory five-day home isolation for close contacts.

News Hong Kong Axes Almost All Covid-19 Restrictions After 3 years
Hong Kong Axes Almost All Covid-19 Restrictions After 3 years

However, the daily rapid tests and regular PCR tests will remain in place for employees of residential care homes, the government noted.

Furthermore, the government also scrapped the rule limiting the number of people allowed to get together outside to 12. This rule was increased from four people in October as part of the first wave of lifting coronavirus restrictions.

Hong Kong implemented some of the strictest coronavirus measures worldwide. At the same time, nearly 93% of the population have had two vaccines, while some 83% have received three jabs, government data shows. Lee confirmed that the high vaccination rates are among the main reasons to ease the rules.

”The city has reached a high vaccination rate which builds an anti-epidemic barrier. Nearly 2.5 million have been infected, and when the vaccination rate reaches 94%, the pandemic risks are controllable,” Lee said during a press conference.

Lee also highlighted that Hong Kong opted to use mRNA vaccines rather than developing its product. The government official noted that local healthcare workers have already gained rich experience treating the disease.

Lee explained that the government would take ”more targeted measures” to tackle further virus spread, such as promoting vaccination among vulnerable groups, elderly people, and children.

According to official data, more than 11,000 out of 2,5 million infected people in the country have died with the novel virus. On Wednesday, Hong Kong reported 20,865 new coronavirus cases, including 1,176 imported, and another 59 deaths.

Some locals and business owners have severely criticized Hong Kong’s approach to the pandemic. They opined that the draconian measures have negatively affected the country’s image as an international financial hub and damaged the domestic economy.

The ease of coronavirus measures in Hong Kong comes shortly after mainland China made a similar move after weeks-long protests.

However, Lee has also urged Japan to reconsider its recent decision to restrict Hong Kong travelers from landing at all but four airports in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Some 700 passengers from Hong Kong arrived at airports in Japan in May, while their number rocketed to 83,000 in November, according to official data.

Hong Kong is currently in talks with Beijing to reopen the border before January 15, Lee confirmed, adding that the parties aim to prevent chaos after three years of the border closure.

Asked about the widespread rumors about whether ”white lungs” and new coronavirus variants had appeared among Covid-19 patients in China, Lee urged the population to be extra vigilant for fake news, especially online, and to verify its sources of information.

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