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Hong Kong removes some restrictions for travelers and ends contact tracing

The city’s health secretary is to formally announce the removal of restrictions on international visitors and an end to requirements to scan a government health app to access public places, city leader John Lee said on Tuesday. , during a regular press conference.

Lee said the measures would come into effect from Wednesday, when travelers arriving in the city would no longer receive a “code orange” barring them from entering restaurants and bars. in their first three days. However, a vaccine requirement for entering venues, including restaurants, would remain, he added.

“It is no longer necessary to scan the Leave Home Safe app, but we will retain the vaccination pass requirement for certain premises,” Lee said.

International arrivals are still required to undergo a PCR test upon arrival in Hong Kong and on the second day of their visit, while mask-wearing remains mandatory in all public places, including outdoors. People who test positive should self-isolate.

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

Since 2021, Hong Kong residents have had to scan a QR code using the government’s Leave Home Safe app before entering restaurants, bars and gyms.

Lee said one of the reasons for dropping the measures was that the risk of infection to the local community posed by imported cases was now lower.

China made a major pivot from its hardline zero-Covid stance following protests across the country in November.

On Monday, Chinese authorities announced the deactivation of the “mobile route map” health tracking function. The system, which is separate from the health code scanning system required in a number of places in China, had used mobile phone data to track people’s travel history to identify those who had visited cities. with areas designated as “high risk” by the authorities. .

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