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Hong Kong to loosen 0+3 entry restriction

Arrivals must undergo numerous days of Covid-19 testing at mobile centres in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s controversial 0+3 entry regulation could be moving to 0+0 - but only if you’re travelling in a tourist group with a licensed tour guide.

When hotel quarantine was finally scrapped in the city in September, the move unfortunately didn’t mean that Hong Kong would go back to normal. Instead, the government introduced a controversial - and perhaps convoluted - 0+3 rule. It means that although new arrivals are no longer subject to hotel quarantine, they must undergo three days of ‘medical surveillance’, meaning restricted access across the city. Restaurants, bars, museums and theme parks are all out of bounds to those fresh out of Chek Lap Kok airport until 9am on the fourth day (day one is counted as zero).

However, in a bid to boost the city’s understandably lacklustre inbound tourism numbers and appease a frustrated tourism sector, the government has now decided that certain arrivals may enjoy immediate access to tourist attractions. So, if you’re travelling as part of an official tourist group, you should soon be allowed entry to designated tourist attractions, including theme parks, museums and temples, as well as partitioned areas in designated dining spaces. After all, nothing says ‘welcome’ more than being led to a sealed off corner of a restaurant.

The government added that it will also be “exploring” the possibility of inbound tour group travellers undergoing fewer tests on arrival. Currently, all arrivals must take a test on arrival, plus regular testing throughout the following days.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of the world remains either ignorant or incredulous about the regulations still in place in what was once one of Asia’s most vibrant cities. Nine overseas arrivals at this weekend’s Hong Kong Rugby Sevens event were denied access to the stadium because they were unaware of the 0+3 arrangement.

Fortunately, Hong Kong’s Rugby Union stepped in to save the day, offering to host the group in the organiser’s box on the final day of Sevens when the group was finally allowed to enter the stadium. One of the travellers, Reiner Du Plessis, told the South China Morning Post newspaper that the Hong Kong Rugby Union “are treating us very nicely, full catering, free beer… we’re just enjoying the last day.”

No date has yet been set for the new 0+0 set-up, although a government statement said it would take effect “this month”.

“The relevant arrangements can support the gradual resumption of the inbound travel market in an orderly manner, and provide a more favourable business environment,” continued the government statement.

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