Hong Kong is set to reduce its hotel quarantine to three days from seven as residents and businesses become increasingly frustrated with the strict controls.

Following this period, travellers will then be under four days of “home medical surveillance.” During this time, visitors will not be permitted to enter bars and restaurants, with these establishments required to implement a two-colour health code similar to the code used on mainland China.

These measures will come into effect on Friday.

Hong’s Kong’s chief executive John Lee said the government wanted to reduce the impact of quarantine on the economy and travel. Since he took office last month, Lee pledged to focus on reconnecting Hong Kong with mainland China.

“We need to balance between people’s livelihood and the competitiveness of Hong Kong to give the community maximum momentum and economic vitality,” Lee said during a press conference on Monday.

Hong Kong has become one of the most isolated places in the world following two and a half years of stringent border controls.

The strict pandemic policies led to an exodus of residents from Hong Kong. Over 120,000 people departed in 2020 and 2021, with tens of thousands more expected to do so this year.

According to findings from a poll carried out by the American Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong in 2021, over 40% of expats are planning to leave or contemplating doing so.

Although the relaxing of the quarantine rules in Hong Kong are positive, it is still behind the rest of the world, according to Natixis senior economist in the city, Gary Ng: “The optimistic scenario is Hong Kong’s air passengers can reach 8% of the pre-pandemic level in 2022, but it is not enough,” Ng told Al Jazeera.
“Hong Kong’s leadership needs to move beyond COVID for the greater good of the economy and introducing extra hurdles does not help, such as the health code.”

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