The Hong Kong government has updated its list of designated quarantine hotels to meet the anticipated demand for Christmas and Lunar New Year.
The Hong government has announced it will add an additional five hotels to its already existing list of 35 designated hotels allocated for quarantine purposes, taking the total to 40, for the sixth iteration of the designated hotel scheme which has been expanded to 28 February 2022. This would up increase the supply of available rooms from 10,000 to 11,500. Room rates range from HK$500 per night for a single room to over HK$8,000 for a suite.
"In view of the strong demand for rooms under the fifth cycle, as well as the several long public holidays to be covered under the sixth cycle, more hotel rooms have been made available under this new cycle in anticipation of a possible increase in market demand," a spokesperson for the government said in a press release.
Despite months of zero local infections and 58% of people fully vaccinated, and 61% having received at least one dose of the vaccine, Hong Kong has some of the strictest requirements on incoming travellers in the world. The Hong Kong government hasn't indicated under what conditions restrictions might be loosened.
Currently, only residents are allowed to re-enter the SAR from more than two dozen countries deemed to be 'high risk'. Entrants are required to present a negative PCR test taken 72-hours before departure, present valid vaccination records from a list of recognised countries by Hong Kong and quarantine for 21 days in a designated quarantine hotel.
Furthermore, residents are required to undergo six tests during compulsory quarantine, self-monitor for a subsequent seven days, and take another compulsory test on the 26th day of arrival at a community testing centre.
While visitors from medium-risk countries are allowed to enter the SAR, vaccinated travellers are still required to undergo 14 days of compulsory quarantine at a designated hotel and undergo a further six COVID-19 tests, (four during quarantine and then on day 16 and 19 after arrival at a community testing centre).
Hong Kong's unwavering demand for a zero-COVID policy may leave it at risk of being left behind as much of the world adopts a more endemic response towards COVID and starts to welcome travel back to its borders.
In contrast and often compared to city-state Singapore because of their similar land and population sizes, the Singapore government has announced a raft of measures that would allow tourists back inside its borders under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme.
With 11 countries/regions as part of its vaccinated travel lane scheme, this grants people access to the city with a valid vaccination record, a pre-departure COVID-19 test, and one upon arrival.
Under Singapore's current travel health control measures, Hong Kong and Macao are classified under Category (I), which means inbound travellers from Hong Kong arriving into Singapore would have to take a PCR test upon arrival and have to remain in self-isolation, until a negative COVID-19 PCR test result is conveyed (typically within 24 hours). This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated inbound travellers.
All travellers, except Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, must apply for entry approval to enter Singapore using a SafeTravel Lane.
The Singapore government has also unveiled allowed its recover-at-home programme and self-isolation protocols, allowing asymptomatic and very mild cases to recuperate at home, while increasing its hospital and COVID-19 community care facilities.
"We would like to reassure these individuals that it is safe to do so as vaccination is highly protective against severe illness, as local and overseas data has consistently showed. For those whose home conditions are really not suitable for Home Recovery, we will assess them on a case-by-case basis, and allow some to recover at one of our Community Care Facilities," said Singapore's Multi-Ministry Taskforce.
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