Flight ban rules streamlined

March 27, 2022

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)


Chief Executive Carrie Lam today reiterated that there is no room for a major relaxation of the route-specific flight suspension mechanism but the Government has streamlined the existing measure.


The Government announced that the mechanism will continue to be applicable to specific non-compliant routes and that the flight ban period will be shortened from 14 to seven days.


Responding to questions at a press conference this morning, Mrs Lam said the mechanism remains a fundamental pillar to Hong Kong's anti-epidemic policy in guarding against the importation of COVID-19 cases even though the place-specific flight suspension on nine countries will be lifted next month.


“Having considered the latest epidemic situation and the difficulties caused to Hong Kong residents stranded in nine countries for almost three months now, the Government considers it timely and necessary, having considered the situation, to lift the ban in respect of these nine countries.


“But it does not mean that we will loosen all the necessary anti-epidemic controls as far as importation of cases is concerned. That is why this route-specific flight suspension policy or measure has to continue.


“At the same time, if you look at the press release issued by the Food & Health Bureau last night, we are also imposing a lot of requirements for pre-boarding. In other words, those Hong Kong residents who wish to come back still have to fulfil all those requirements before they could board the plane to come back.


“Similarly, the airlines, as the operators of those inbound flights, also have to comply with the various requirements. For example, checking the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) negative test results of the passengers and making sure that they have a booking of at least seven nights in a designated quarantine hotel before they allow these passengers to board the plane to come to Hong Kong.


“Since we have this expectation and requirement of the airlines, we need to put in some penalty. If they fail to fulfil these requirements and bring a certain number of infected passengers into Hong Kong, then we have to take some punitive action so that they will do better.”


The Chief Executive also pointed out that the rate of inbound travellers who tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival was 0.76% in February, while the figure was slightly higher at 1.1% up to March 23.


Moreover, most of these infected travellers were asymptomatic or had very mild symptoms and were sent to community isolation facilities instead of public hospitals, which did not overburden the hospitals' capacity.


Mrs Lam believes the risk of virus transmission should be manageable despite the anticipated large number of Hong Kong residents returning from overseas.

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