Hong Kong quarantine threatens financial hub status: businesses
European business leaders have warned that Hong Kong's stringent quarantine measures have left its residents "indefinitely trapped" in the city, threatening its status as an international business centre.
In a rare open letter to chief executive Carrie Lam on Thursday, the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said the city's most recent hardening of measures for inbound travellers were "out of proportion" and a "significant setback".
The Chinese financial hub maintains some of the strictest quarantine rules in the world, an approach that has kept virus cases low but left most residents cut off from the rest of the world for the past 18 months. Arrivals from high-risk countries have to stay in hotel quarantine for 21 days, while for lower-risk countries that drops to seven days followed by another seven days of self-monitoring.
Last week, the authorities announced that a brief flirtation with relaxing some of these rules had to be scrapped. The decision threw travel plans of many into disarray towards the end of the summer holidays, sparked a shortage of hotel rooms and caused growing frustration within the business community.
"We are of the view that Hong Kong must open itself sooner rather than later or this new quarantine regime could lead many in the international community to question if they want to remain indefinitely trapped in Hong Kong when the rest of the world is moving on," Frederik Gollob, chairman of the chamber's board of directors wrote in the letter.
"This concern amongst the international business community could pose, undoubtedly, a growing threat to Hong Kong's status as an international business centre.