Hong Kong’s asset management industry has joined the rest of the city in cheering the end of hotel quarantine after almost three years of near-isolation from the rest of the world.
Industry players said they are anticipating more business trips and increased conference activity.
However, PCR tests on arrival will still be required which could test the commitment of C-suite executives expected to arrive for a high-profile banking summit in November. People will also not be permitted to visit restaurants for the first three days in Hong Kong.
“This is indeed very good news,” said the head of Asia institutional business for a large American bank. “Although the restriction on public activities for the first three days after arrival could still be a source of frustration for some, if you arrive in Hong Kong on a Friday, then you can be out and free for the whole of the following week,” he told AsianInvestor.
“I think this will help with business travel and tourism. But we should not expect tourist numbers to return to ‘normal’ levels until we move to a ‘0+0’ regime,” he added.
On Friday (Sep 23), Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced that they will scrap the three-day hotel quarantine measures for overseas and Taiwan visitors starting Monday (Sep 26).
The change was made the same day that Singapore overtook Hong Kong to become the world’s third-placed financial centre in the latest Global Financial Centres Index, just behind New York and London.
Beating market expectation of a “0+7” policy, the Hong Kong government replaces the current “3+4” mode with “0+3”, under which people can move freely in the city upon arrival but can’t go to bars or restaurants for three days.
“What I feel from people I know is that ‘3+4’ is already good enough for business trips, but clearly more relaxed is better,” said a Hong Kong chief investment officer of a multinational life insurance company.
But he told AsianInvestor that he may not go for any trips until early next year to avoid an expected rush after the policy change.
Meanwhile, visitors won’t need a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before departure anymore. But a series of PCR and RAT tests are still required upon arrival. If they test positive, they will be subject to quarantine in either their own residence or a government facility depending on their symptoms.
NOT PERFECT, BUT VERY GOOD
Hong Kong is working hard to reverse the damage of its global quarantine lockdown. In early November, it is hosting the iconic Rugby Sevens, as well as a high-profile financial summit organised by its de-facto central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
For visitors coming to financial conferences in Hong Kong, it could be difficult if they are only able to eat take-out in a hotel room for the first three days, noted Carlos Casanova, senior economist for Asia at Union Bancaire Privée (UBP).
“If [the government] is trying to use that bankers conference and the Rugby Sevens as an opportunity to show the world that Hong Kong has reopened and back to business as…