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No relief for children as Hong Kong reduces UK quarantine

Arrivals who haven't been vaccinated must still quarantine for 21 days.

Hong Kong government is to reduce quarantine time for UK arrivals from 21 to 14 days, but under 16s must continue to isolate for three weeks.

The government announced today that Britain will officially drop from a high-risk Group A2 rating to a Group B rating from June 4 as its vaccination roll-out continues apace. This means that fully vaccinated arrivals from Britain will be subject to 14 days quarantine in a designated hotel rather than 21. However, there has been no indication of any exemption for children under the age of 16, who are not currently approved to receive a Covid-19 vaccination in either the UK or Hong Kong.

A government statement released on May 31 said: “Having considered the United Kingdom’s continued rising vaccination rate and that there have been no imported cases since the resumption of passenger flights to Hong Kong, the government will specify the United Kingdom as a Group B specified place from June 4 onwards."

Britain has been steadily dropping down Hong Kong's high-risk groupings since December last year when soaring infections saw it placed on the extremely high-risk list. Flights into Hong Kong from London were banned from landing and Hong Kong residents returning from the UK were forced to spend a 21-day ‘wash-out’ period in a non-high risk country before re-entering Hong Kong.

The new listing as part of Group B means that fully vaccinated arrivals from Britain must present a negative nucleic acid test result taken within 72 hours of departure and confirmation of a room reservation in a designated Hong Kong quarantine hotel for 14 days.

Non-vaccinated arrivals from Group B countries must continue to undertake the full 21 day quarantine. Fully vaccinated means the final vaccination shot must have been administered at least 14 days before travel. The UK has so far approved four Covid-19 vaccines, including Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca which all require two jabs and the single-dose Janssen inoculation.

However, the sticking point is for those travelling with children under the age of 16. Vaccination for children between the ages of 12 and 16 years has been given the green light in the US, but not so far in either the UK or Hong Kong. Most countries have made exceptions for under 16s, requiring them to provide a negative test result in place of a vaccination certificate. However, Hong Kong government has yet to make any such exception, which means returning boarding school students at the end of the school year in July must still quarantine for 21 days. Many quarantine hotels are reportedly fully booked over the summer months, such as been the demand from returning Hong Kong residents. The lack of room availability was compounded by the government recently reducing hotel capacity to 80%. Interconnecting rooms sought by parents returning with young students have been described as ‘gold dust’.

According to the government, it will "continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation... including the prevalence of new variants, vaccination progress and changes in the volume of cross-boundary passenger traffic" and will "adjust the boarding and compulsory quarantine requirements... as the situation warrants."

Due to worsening Covid situations in Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam will also be moved to Group B on June 4, which is up a group from the lower risk Group C.

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