Hong Kong is set to cut mandatory quarantine on arrival from 7 days to 3 days starting this Friday. When you enter the Special Administrative Region of China you have to fill out forms, test frequently, and go into 3 days of isolation still. But that’s down an earlier length of three weeks. Once past the 3 days you aren’t done with restrictions, however, because you still cannot enter restaurants or bars for another four days.
This creates that odd situation that a Thursday arrival has to quarantine past when a Friday arrival is released from quarantine. But there’s far less reason to enter Hong Kong than there used to be.
- The city itself is less desirable as it’s become less free, with Chinese state security taking on an increased role in the city.
- And the turn towards the mainland and the ‘Greater Bay Area’ rather than the world financial system has made it less relevant, to the benefit of other cities like Singapore.
You don’t want to connect in Hong Kong now, either. There are fewer flights, and so delays become more costly. If you miss a connection you can’t just enter the city. So it makes sense to stay away from Hong Kong even as a stopover point.
Eventually Hong Kong (and mainland China) will lift pandemic restrictions. The city has focused on its relationship with Beijing, and the Peoples Republic of China has kept draconian Covid restrictions because much of its population has remained immunologically naive and they’ve been unwilling to using mRNA vaccines (since those represent failure of Chinese science compared to the West) and other key treatments.
China needs to keep Covid-19 in check until getting past the 20th Peoples Congress at which President Xi is expected to break with convention set by Deng Xiaoping and receive a third term. Uncontrolled spread of Covid (and invasion of Taiwan, for that matter) represent too much risk to take on for the Chinese leader before that.
I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years, as I have mainland China, and I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent in the past. It’s hard to imagine returning in the medium-term even when restrictions are lifted. The pandemic – and changes to civil liberties in the region – will have truly lasting effects.