“For us, everything is unpredictable and therefore unmanageable: Even if you have complied with all the rules, there is absolutely no guarantee that you can travel.” It is in these terms that Michiel Mak, Vice President of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, responds to the page Bloomberg.com to the announcement of the new easing of travel restrictions announced by the Hong Kong authorities from 1 May.
For the first time in two years, non-residents will be allowed to enter the territory – provided they are vaccinated, subjected to the two mandatory tests (a PCR test plus a rapid antigen test) and are ready to spend seven days in quarantine , at your own expense in a hotel. In addition, airlines that have carried more than five travelers polluted by Covid will continue to see their flights to Hong Kong suspended for five days instead of seven today: heavily criticized by companies and travelers, the entities say “by circuit breaker” (“power switch”) therefore remains in effect, explains Bloomberg.
Excessive relaxations that are too limited
According to George Cautherley, Vice President of the International Chamber of Commerce, these schemes will not have much effect on companies doing business with Hong Kong:
“For business travelers, quarantines are simply not financially viable.”
“Politics of circuit breaker, even relieved, will continue to pose difficult logistical problems to solve. That is why we are asking the government to give it up as soon as possible. “ says David Graham, CEO of the city’s British Chamber of Commerce.
Slow easing of zero Covid policy continues to undermine Hong Kong’s competitiveness, says Johannes Hack of the German Chamber of Commerce:
“We still do not have a clear roadmap when it comes to reopening borders and quarantine-free travel.”
In fact, in addition to still very limited flight options, the cost of airfare and quarantine is enough to deter visitors from traveling to Hong Kong, notes South China Morning Post. The smallest direct flight to Europe currently costs 11,000 Hong Kong dollars or just over 1,300 euros. And at most hotels offering reservations from next May, the price per night is between 1,150 and 5,950 Hong Kong dollars (140 to 720 euros), according to the newspaper’s survey.
For Helen Cheung Hoi-yan, head of public relations at the Nina Hotels group, no one expects an immediate boom in bookings.
A clearly dissuasive policy
The nightmare of travelers going to Hong Kong, as described by journalist Eli Meixler, from FinancialTimesis therefore not about to end: “
“At 1am I found myself stranded in Istanbul and began to doubt: could I return to Hong Kong? I had no return ticket, I had already left New York 24 hours ago, and despair crept in …”
A trip between New York and Hong Kong, which before the pandemic took 16 hours non-stop, turned into a true marathon, which from canceled flights to transit airports took the journalist to Istanbul, Singapore and Bangkok, where he had to wait four days before finally to be able to fly to Hong Kong.
An accident that constitutes a textbook case. Despite the easing of some access requirements, Hong Kong’s zero Covid policy remains a very effective deterrent:
“The international airport, which was once the busiest in all of Asia, is being dethroned by its rivals, companies are moving their staff who can no longer tolerate forced separations … It is difficult in these circumstances to imagine that the city can soon regain its world ranking. “
the old“World of Asia” – the city “open to the world” – will no doubt remain so“The Fortified City of Asia”, as expatriates now call it : a fortress.