Hong Kong reopens and prepares for first overseas visitors
Hong Kong is preparing to reopen to overseas international visitors in a matter of days, more than two years after the pandemic shuttered travel.
Hong Kong’s government announced that overseas, non-residents will be allowed to enter beginning at midnight on May 1, with strict COVID-19 protocols in effect.
This marks the first time Hong Kong has welcomed visitors from outside China since March 25, 2020, when the government put major travel restrictions in place as COVID-19 spread around the world. Earlier this spring, TPG reported Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) began welcoming international flights, but only residents were allowed in.
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On Friday, government officials said the new protocols will continue to guard “against the importation of cases” while allowing more travel to the region – including more available access for Hong Kong residents looking to travel internationally.
Visitors and residents who fly to Hong Kong from overseas will face both testing and quarantine requirements upon arrival. As part of the government’s “test and hold” program, travelers will undergo a PCR test on arrival and face a mandatory seven-day quarantine at a government-approved hotel.
Related: Here are places that dropped COVID-19 restrictions in March
On top of the PCR test, Hong Kong’s government also announced that visitors will soon be swabbed for rapid antigen tests upon arrival, but this appears to be in addition to the PCR test and is not aimed at reducing quarantine time, but rather at reducing crowding at the airport.
The government will also be closely monitoring case counts among passengers on incoming flights. According to the new guidance, if the same flight includes positive COVID-19 test results upon arrival from five or more passengers or 5% of the passengers on board (whichever is higher), that particular airline will not be allowed to fly that route to Hong Kong for five days.
Hong Kong Disneyland reopens
As Hong Kong prepares to reopen to international flyers for the first time in two years, Hong Kong Disneyland also reopened its gates for the first time in months.
On Thursday, the park began welcoming visitors for the first time since elevated COVID-19 cases shut the resort down in January this year, a shutdown that occurred about two years after the park shut down the first time at the onset of the pandemic.
In a reminder of the type of COVID-19 restrictions seen in public places earlier in the pandemic, Hong Kong Disneyland’s reopening features temperature checks, reservation requirements, mask rules and strict crowd control measures for social distancing.
Guests can make a reservation up to 90 days prior to arrival at the gates, and reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, the park’s website says. Visitors can reserve their time and date using their MyDisney account.
There’s still no word, though, on when Disneyland in Shanghai might welcome visitors again. TPG reported that the park shut down March 21 amid a surge in cases in the region. With the temporary shutdown, Disneyland Shanghai suspended ticket sales and hotel reservations indefinitely. There is no confirmed date for the reopening of operations.
Traveling to China
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently ranks Hong Kong at Level 3, high levels of COVID-19, as part of its revamped Travel Health Notices system. Mainland China is at Level 1, Low, as the country has seen some improvement in its case counts following outbreaks earlier this year.
The U.S. State Department places Hong Kong at Level 4: Do Not Travel on its travel advisories, though. The guidance, updated April 18, also applies People’s Republic of China, “due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and COVID-19-related restrictions,” amid the country’s zero tolerance COVID-19 policies.