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Hong Kong scraps restrictions for travelers, ends contact tracing

Hong Kong has announced it will scrap some of the remaining restrictions on travelers and end contact tracing, after Beijing shifted away from its hardline zero-Covid stance.

Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau told a news conference on Tuesday that travelers arriving in the city would no longer be issued an “amber code” barring them from entering restaurants and bars during their first three days.

Chung-mau also confirmed the end of a requirement to scan a government health app to enter public venues, but said a vaccine pass would still be needed to enter venues including restaurants.

Travel from Hong Kong to Macao and mainland China will also be eased to “keep in line with mainland China’s policy,” Lo said.

International travelers are still required to undergo a PCR test on arrival in Hong Kong and on the second day of their visit, plus five days of rapid antigen tests. Those testing positive must isolate.

Speaking earlier on Tuesday, Hong Kong leader John Lee said one reason for easing restrictions was that the infection risk to the local community posed by imported cases was now lower.

The incremental easing of restrictions comes after Hong Kong removed mandatory quarantine for overseas travelers in September, following more than two and a half years of isolation that threatened its status as an international business hub and plunged the economy into recession.

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas