According to media sources, Hong Kong’s administration has declared that foreigners will be allowed to fly into the city beginning in May, easing an entry prohibition that has kept most visitors out for more than two years.
From May 1, officials stated, the city will lower the threshold for halting inbound planes carrying infected individuals (22 April). The current three-person limit will be increased to five people, or 5% of all passengers on a single aircraft, whichever is higher.
According to the South China Morning Post, the period of time that flight routes are blocked would be reduced from seven to five days.
The decision to reopen the city to foreigners was decided after a government steering committee examined the situation, according to the Food and Health Bureau, which announced the end of the entry prohibition.
“Considering public health factors … and balancing the expectation from members of the public as well as the various sectors of the community … the committee considers that there is room to suitably adjust relevant measures,” it said.
Residents and visitors to Hong Kong International Airport will be obliged to do a quick antigen test in addition to the standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, according to the government.
Those who test negative on the fast test will be required to travel to a designated hotel for seven days of quarantine while awaiting the results of their PCR test.
Only 3% of COVID infections documented between January and March were imported, according to Hong Kong officials, while the proportion decreased to 1% for cases logged since April 1, when a restriction on flights from nine countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, was lifted.
As the Omicron variant spread around the world, Hong Kong barred non-residents from most countries from entering in 2021, and by this past January, the number of places on the “no-entry list” had swelled to more than 160, according to the Post. Visitors who stayed in mainland China, Macau, or Taiwan were unaffected.
Only 2,600 persons visited the city for the purpose of travel in February, a far cry from the 5 million tourists registered in the same month in 2019 before the epidemic struck.
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, said the recent measures were a step in the right direction for improving connectivity to the aviation hub, and that it would try to restore more flights.