Hong Kong, one of the last big tourism destinations in Asia with onerous Covid travel restrictions, has lifted almost of them – starting immediately.
While rules have been eased significantly in recent months, until 29 December arrivals required multiple PCR tests after arrival. In addition, access to many venues was controlled by a Vaccine Pass.
The only testing requirement now is a lateral flow (rapid antigen) test within the 24 hours before the flight departs to Hong Kong.
Arrivals may take daily antigen tests on the first five days in Hong Kong if they wish. Restrictions on group gatherings and limits on capacity of restaurants have been lifted, but a mask mandate remains in effect in many settings.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Hong Kong was served by dozens of flights each week from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.
Hong Kong banned all flights from the UK in December 2020. They were allowed briefly in May and June 2021, but then barred again in July 2021 until April 2022.
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s main airline, has cut flights drastically worldwide – with a significant part of its fleet languishing at Alice Springs airport in central Australia.
It operates only two flights per day from the UK to Hong Kong, both from London Heathrow.
British Airways, which used to operate multiple flights using A380 SuperJumbo aircraft, currently has a single daily Boeing 787 service.
Dr Pang Yiu-kai, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), said: “The new measures mark a key milestone for tourism revival and the full reopening of the tourism doors of Hong Kong.
“We believe this will attract visitors to Hong Kong from around the world. Taking into account the pace of outbound travel resumption in different visitor source markets, HKTB will gradually step up its promotions worldwide to uphold Hong Kong’s status as a world-class travel destination.”
Mandatory hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals to Hong Kong ended on 26 September 2022.