Hong Kong students were left scrambling for flights home after it was announced that the UK is to be listed as a high-risk destination.
The United Kingdom is set to join the United States, Pakistan and Bangladesh on Hong Kong’s high-risk coronavirus list.
The move will require all travellers from Britain to test negative for Covid-19 before departure and to complete Hong Kong’s mandatory 14-day quarantine in a registered hotel.
The measure will take effect from October 1 and will remain in place until further notice.
The decision to list Britain as a high-risk destination comes after surging cases in Europe this month. The territory is also considering adding further European countries to the list, including France and Spain.
According to a source quoted in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper, Britain was added first as the territory has a larger number of UK travellers compared to other European nations. “When deciding on which countries to add to the list, health authorities also looked at the potential number of travellers arriving from those countries and the number of direct flights available,” the source was quoted as saying.
Before boarding, travellers from Britain will now need to submit a negative Covid-19 test result and confirmation of their hotel reservation in Hong Kong for the duration of the 14-day quarantine.
On September 24, the UK reported 6,634 new infections, its highest ever number of new daily cases. Spain and France have each recorded more than 10,000 new cases on some days over the past week.
The UK is a popular destination with Hong Kongers for boarding schools and universities and the move has sent many parents scrambling for flights to beat the new measures that come into force next week. British half-term holidays begin next month and many more children were booked to return to Hong Kong for the Christmas break in December. The biggest concern for parents was managing mandatory hotel quarantine for unaccompanied minors. The Hong Kong government has made no indication that it will be introducing exemptions to quarantine for under 18s, unlike destinations such as Australia which allows minors to complete the mandatory self-isolation period at home.
Britain joins Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and the United States on Hong Kong’s high-risk country list.