January 27, 2023

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Hong Kong is lifting some restrictions on travelers and ending contact tracing

Hong Kong Eureka News Now —

Hong Kong on Tuesday announced it would lift some remaining restrictions on travelers and end contact tracing after Beijing backed away from its tough zero-Covid stance.

The city’s health secretary is set to formally announce the removal of curbs for international visitors and the end of requirements for scanning a government health app to enter public venues, city chairman John Lee said at a regular news conference on Tuesday.

Lee said the measures would come into effect from Wednesday, when travelers arriving in the city would no longer receive a “yellow code” preventing them from entering restaurants and bars for the first three days. However, vaccination requirements for entry into venues, including restaurants, would remain in place, he added.

“It’s no longer required to scan the Leave Home Safe app, but we will maintain the vaccination card requirement for certain premises,” Lee said.

International arrivals are still required to undergo a PCR test upon arrival in Hong Kong and on the second day of their visit, while mask-wearing remains mandatory in all public places, including outdoors. Those who test positive must isolate themselves.

The gradual easing of restrictions comes after Hong Kong lifted mandatory quarantine for overseas travelers in September after being isolated for more than two and a half years, threatening its status as an international business hub and plunging the economy into recession.

Since 2021, people in Hong Kong must scan a QR code with the government’s Leave Home Safe app before entering places like restaurants, bars and gyms.

Lee said one of the reasons the measures were scrapped is that the risk of infection for the local community from imported cases is now lower.

China took a major turning point from its uncompromising zero-Covid position following nationwide protests in November.

On Monday, authorities in China announced a deactivation of the “Mobile Itinerary Map” health tracking feature. The system, which is separate from the health code scanning system required in some places in China, had used cellphone data to track people’s travel histories to identify those who had visited cities with zones designated by authorities as “high risk”.