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Hong Kong will lift its ban on flights from the UK and Ireland this week, if the local coronavirus situation and other “relevant overseas places” does not change, our correspondent in Taiwan, Helen Davidson reports.

The ban on incoming flights has been in place since December, when it was announced suddenly in response to the virulent strain emerging in the UK. It left a number of Hongkongers stranded in the UK.

Late on Tuesday the government said it would resume the flights this Friday “after having considered the stabilising local epidemic situation and the relatively satisfactory vaccination rate in the UK and Ireland”.

A Cathay Pacific plane lands at Hong Kong airport.

A Cathay Pacific plane lands at Hong Kong airport. Photograph: Vernon Yuen/REX/Shutterstock

Travelers must obtain a negative Covid-19 test before boarding and another on arrival at Hong Kong airport, before being sent to the 21-night hotel quarantine.

The government statement said:

Considering that the epidemic situation is still unstable in the existing extremely high-risk places such as India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Brazil and South Africa, the Government will continue to restrict people who have stayed in those places from boarding a flight for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has kept its borders closed to non-residents since early in the pandemic, and has on occasion banned flights from particular hot spots, or suspended particular airlines who have brought in passengers who test positive on arrival.

On Wednesday a DNA specialist told Hong Kong Today the government should consider going further, by enacting an Australian-style cap on the number of arrivals.

Dr Gilman Siu from the Department of Health Technology and Informatics at Polytechnic University told local radio he was concerned about an impending travel bubble with Singapore, and proposed relaxations of quarantine measures.

“I think we should consider limits on how many people can return to Hong Kong, because we are getting more and more imported cases, and more would be hard for the quarantine hotels. The quarantine hotels are not hospital.”



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