Hong Kong removes international travel quarantine after more than two years
Hong Kong (CNN) The Hong Kong government has announced the ending of formal quarantine for international travelers after more than two and a half years of stringent pandemic controls.
Under new rules that will take effect from September 26, incoming travelers will be required to undergo three days of self-monitoring on arrival.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive John Lee said in a much anticipated press conference on Friday that the city's infection numbers have stabilized, allowing for the removal of quarantine.
"We hope to give the maximum room to reconnect Hong Kong, and to revitalize our economy," Lee said.
Incoming travelers will be able to do their three days of self-monitoring at home or a place of their own choice.
While various governments brought in border controls following the outbreak of the pandemic, most have since rolled back the measures, including Singapore, which typically vies with Hong Kong to attract foreign business and talent.
A public signal of Beijing's support for Hong Kong's new policy route came on September 20, when the deputy head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Huang Liuquan said the Hong Kong government had been coordinating its policies in line with its local situation and adjustments did not need to be "overinterpreted."
While the new policy for international arrivals in Hong Kong may not be a harbinger of imminent change in mainland policy, it is a mark of divergent situations on each side of the border.
Though the city kept local cases to a minimum for the first two years of the pandemic, Hong Kong experienced an explosive outbreak of the highly infectious Omicron variant earlier this year and has not revived a zero-Covid stance since.
Hong Kong's new measures comes more than 900 days after the city first enacted border restrictions in March 2020 and nearly two years after it mandated hotel quarantine for all international arrivals in December 2020.
At its longest, the quarantine period stretched to 21 days.
Travelers who tested positive during quarantine were moved to designated facilities, including, at times, government-run camps.