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Asia Minute: Shifting Pandemic Rules in Hong Kong

AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Rules on international travel still vary around the world in the time of this pandemic. Hong Kong is moving slowly to ease some of its restrictions, but it's also considering a tougher approach on testing.


This week, Hong Kong is starting airport trials of a rapid coronavirus test. It can be turned around quickly — compared to current tests that can take eight hours or longer to produce results.

The city is also moving ahead with plans for a “travel bubble” with Singapore that’s on track to start next month. Arriving passengers who can show a recent negative test for COVID-19 can skip two weeks of quarantine.

Both cities have had recent daily reports of new cases only in the single digits.

Hong Kong residents returning from mainland China can also avoid the quarantine with a negative test starting next month, although the arrangement will only be in effect at a limited number of border crossings.

Almost all non-residents have been banned from entering Hong Kong for months.

As Chief Executive Carrie Lam was giving these updates, she also mentioned the government is drafting a law that would make Covid-19 tests mandatory for some people — including those showing symptoms. Lam says the government could also require tests for clusters and high risk groups.

As for Hong Kong residents, some other rules are loosening. Starting Friday, six people can sit together at restaurants, and four at bars.

Also, next Tuesday will be a big day.

It’s election day in the United States, but in Hong Kong, it’s the day residents can return to the beach.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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