The government of Hong Kong has revoked a regulation that prohibited individual planes from bringing in individuals infected with the COVID-19 virus, citing “unnecessary trouble” and discomfort to inhabitants of the global financial metropolis.

Airlines applauded the decision, which cleared the door for the return of hundreds of individuals who had been stuck abroad due to the restrictions, which had surpassed 100 this year and significantly angered those used to smooth and fast transport ties with the former British colony.

“The social cost caused by the ‘circuit breaker mechanism’ is quite large, and it also brings unnecessary trouble to … international students and their families,” the government said in a statement.

All new immigrants must still spend at least a week in hotel quarantine and comply with periodic testing instructions, including supplying stool samples for newborns and filling out several documents.

The administration intends to enhance quarantine rules in order to facilitate the movement of persons “necessary for social and economic recovery,” according to the statement.

Previously, airlines risked a five-day restriction if their flights brought in more than five sick passengers. This was down from as recently as two weeks ago, making operations more difficult since the city’s borders had been essentially closed for more than two years.

Hundreds of flights were canceled as a result of the prohibitions, resulting in family separations as families sought to rebook flights and quarantine lodgings at their own cost.

The pandemic precautions have harmed Hong Kong’s competitiveness, according to business leaders who hope the city’s new leader, John Lee, would repeal the quarantine restrictions.

According to such CEOs, Lee, who was inaugurated in last week, has to “reboot” the city since Hong Kong’s border has been essentially locked since 2020 and overseas newcomers face strict quarantine and testing requirements.

Cathay Pacific’s stock in Hong Kong soared more than 5% on the announcement. The airline has been pummeled by rigorous quarantine laws, which have resulted in a 98 percent drop in passenger numbers.

Cathay Pacific said it welcomed the action and was dedicated to maintaining the movement of people and commodities between Hong Kong and the rest of the globe, as well as maintaining its reputation as an international aviation hub.

Many airlines have cancelled or reduced flights to and from the Chinese-controlled city, making it impossible to obtain flights.

While the move was welcome, Korean Air said that it was not exploring expanding flights.

“We’ve already started to operate a daily flight to Hong Kong since July,” it said. “The Hong Kong government still requires the seven-day quarantine for all international travellers.”

Source: Reuters

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