Coronavirus: Hong Kong drops on-arrival PCR tests and vaccine pass

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  • Current 12-person cap on public gatherings will be scrapped; mask mandates will remain in place
  • Further easing of curbs comes as China plans reopening
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Hong Kong will drop the vaccine pass scheme beginning on Thursday. Photo: Jelly Tse

Hong Kong will drop nearly all Covid-19 measures from Thursday, including axing mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 tests for inbound travellers, the vaccine pass scheme and quarantine requirements for close contacts following similar action by mainland China.

The mask mandate, however, will stay in place, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Wednesday.

“About 2.5 million people have been infected and [when the vaccination rate reaches] 94 per cent, the pandemic risks are controllable,” he said. “We will not return to the old road [of tightening pandemic control].”

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Those arriving into Hong Kong will now need to present negative results from PCR or Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) conducted within 48 or 24 hours, respectively.

Earlier, the SCMP also learned that the current 12-person ban on public gatherings would be scrapped.

Lee revealed the latest measures on Wednesday afternoon, at a press conference attended also by health secretary Lo Chung-mau and Centre for Health Protection controller Edwin Tsui Lok-kin.

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“The Hong Kong SAR government will keep relaxing pandemic restrictions but will not give up its anti-epidemic work,” Lo vowed.

Infected individuals will still be required to undergo a five-day isolation and can only be released after showing negative results on RAT tests on the fourth and fifth days.

Beijing earlier announced it would scrap mandatory quarantine and reopen borders from next month, with its National Immigration Administration set to start issuing tourist and business visas to allow Chinese nationals to enter Hong Kong.

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