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Hong Kong Might Ease Strict Quarantine Rules for Vaccinated Aircrew and Passengers

Hong Kong Might Ease Strict Quarantine Rules for Vaccinated Aircrew and Passengers

Hong Kong might shorten mandatory quarantine for arriving travellers the government confirmed on Thursday, while tough quarantine rules for aircrew could be eliminated altogether unconfirmed reports suggest.

The news emerged as Hong Kong announced plans to restart a limited number of repatriation flights from the United Kingdom despite a highly transmissible variant of the Coronavirus now being the dominant strain in the country.

Hong Kong made the decision to partially lift its travel ban on the UK, in part, because of the country’s highly successful vaccination programme that has seen over 45 per cent of the population receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since the rollout got underway late last year.

The Hong Kong government also said it was considering making “adjustments” to a compulsory 21-day quarantine for people arriving from non-high-risk destinations that could include shortening the isolation period.

Arrivals from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore will only have to serve 14-days in hotel quarantine starting April 9, while arrivals from mainland China don’t have to spend any time in quarantine.

Local airline Cathay Pacific welcomed the news although the carrier didn’t directly comment on speculation that aircrew quarantine rules could be lifted if enough crew take up the offer to be vaccinated.

“As Hong Kong’s home airline, we strongly encourage all of our employees, including aircrew, to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their families,” a Cathay Pacific spokesperson commented.

“We support the vaccination programme in Hong Kong and believe vaccination is pivotal to the resumption of regular air travel, the return of normal life for everyone in society and the recovery of Hong Kong’s economy. We look forward to welcoming our customers onboard our flights soon,” a statement from the airline continued.

Aircrew arriving in the territory from abroad must currently spend 14-days in hotel quarantine. The only exemptions are for crew coming from mainland China or Anchorage in Alaska as part of a controversial ‘closed loop’ system.

To get around the restrictions, pilots and cabin crew at Cathay Pacific are currently working 21-days in a row and remain in isolation at the Headland Hotel next to Hong Kong International Airport.

After the 21-day roster is over, crew are moved to a different hotel to spend 14-days in quarantine. In total, crew are separated from their friends and family for 35 days.

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