Business groups, diplomats and many residents have slammed this rule and the city’s other COVID-19 restrictions, saying they threaten Hong Kong’s standing as a global financial centre.
The rules have fuelled an exodus of both expats and local families that was kickstarted by Beijing’s efforts to exert control over the former British colony and limit freedoms. About 113,000 people have left since mid 2021, according to government figures.
They have also forced airlines to drop dozens of flight routes to and from Hong Kong which used to boast one of the world’s busiest airports, while scores of events have been cancelled or postponed.
In contrast, rival financial hub Singapore is hosting a slew of high-profile conferences this month that has seen business boom for hotels and restaurants.
As part of its efforts to get business back to a more normal footing, Hong Kong is planning to host a major finance conference and the international Rugby Sevens in November. Bankers have said quarantine-free travel is a precondition for attending the conference.
It is unclear whether other COVID-19 restrictions will also be relaxed. Hong Kong still bans public groups of more than four people and masks are mandatory, even for children as young as two.