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Hong Kong’s once-bustling nightlife district of Lan Kwai Fong wears a deserted look, in Central on June 14. Photo: Edmond So

LettersHarsh Covid-19 rules raise risks of Hong Kong expat exodus

  • Such a tight grip on Covid-19 measures, including travel and leisure restrictions, would be justified if untraceable local cases were rising rapidly and hospitals were filling up. But this is no longer the case

Hong Kong is a place like no other. For one, it definitely has a confused cultural identity. With a beautifully messy, diverse culture and a colonial history added to the mix, the international culture in Hong Kong is enigmatic and enticing for those from abroad.

Yet, this cultural diversity is quickly slipping away as expats leave by the droves. Why? The answer is simple.

All the things that keep expats in Hong Kong have been affected with the arrival of Covid-19. The travelling, the bars, the clubs, the restaurants, the beaches, the junks, Peel Street past 10pm. It is the beautiful lifestyle of Hong Kong that keeps expats living in the city. It is the nightlife, despite the fact that Hong Kong is a high-stress city. It is the natural landscapes, despite the fact that Hong Kong is the most expensive city to live in the world for expats. It is the travelling, the fact that half the world’s population is within a five-hour flight’s reach, and home is usually a direct flight away.
Gone is this lifestyle with the travel restrictions, lengthy hotel quarantine requirements, and strict social distancing measures. Such a tight grip on Covid-19 measures would be understandable if untraceable local cases were rising rapidly and hospitals were filling up. Yet, this is no longer the case, as seen from the recent 42-day zero transmission streak and the increased pace of vaccination.

With the government’s insufficient differentiation in Covid-19 measures for those vaccinated, the continued travel restrictions, and with no clear end to these measures in sight, what is left of the city is simply the stress and the expense, at heightened levels. Neither of which, unfortunately, are particularly captivating aspects of the city.

For those who have not been able to travel to see family since Christmas 2019, this stressful, expensive city is getting to be a little too much. Before such sentiments boil over and lead to a mass exodus of expats, it is high time the government took care of this unique part of the Hong Kong population. They might not all be permanent residents but they nonetheless hold their Hong Kong ID cards close to heart and call this city home.

Joanne T. Tsang, Tung Chung

‘Jailing’ Hongkongers can’t be a long-term solution

Hong Kong should now start to open up travel bubbles with other destinations and only require quarantine from countries with higher risks of Covid infection. We need to make a start and allow local residents to travel abroad for holidays.


While the quarantine measures have dampened the sentiment of travel, we may not realise that indirectly we are jailing residents within Hong Kong’s borders without any travel choices. Fully vaccinated people should be allowed to travel and return with no quarantine requirements.

If we don’t relax our quarantine standards, it will ultimately impact the local economy and devastate businesses and it may even cause property prices to decline.

We cannot afford to mismanage this city while the rest of the world is opening up.

Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels