HK doubles virus isolation

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ISOLATIONIST POSITION In this photo taken on October 30, 2021, a woman scans a QR code for the government application “Leave Home Safe” to locate people during the onset of any Covid-19 epidemic in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s decision to sink deeper into international coronavirus isolation as rivals reopen doors causes consternation among multinational executives who see no end to a zero Covid strategy imposed by accountable leadership. Beijing. AFP PHOTO

HONG KONG, China: Hong Kong’s decision to sink deeper into international coronavirus isolation as rivals reopen doors causes consternation among multinational executives who see no end to a zero Covid strategy imposed by accountable leadership. Beijing.

The southern Chinese business center has kept the coronavirus at bay, thanks to some of the world’s strictest quarantine rules, with most arrivals undergoing 14 to 21 days of hotel lockdown.

Competitors, such as London, New York, Tokyo and Singapore, have started living with the disease with face-to-face meetings, lectures, and executive trips slowly returning.

But Hong Kong, which calls itself “Asia’s World City,” has gone in the opposite direction.

And earlier this week, authorities further tightened the rules in an attempt to secure a travel bubble with the mainland even as China experiences its fourth outbreak in the past five months.

Managing Director Carrie Lam said restoring travel to the mainland was ‘more important’ than reopening internationally and the city needed to be even stricter than authorities north of the border to gain trust from Beijing.

This choice has raised alarm bells as executives find it increasingly difficult to retain talent and replace those who leave.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) spoke to six senior executives from international companies to assess whether, as a banking lobby group warned last week, Hong Kong’s long-term viability as a plaque turn of business is threatened.

All asked to remain anonymous so they could speak frankly and painted a similar picture.

A basket

The pandemic began with praise for how the city has kept the coronavirus on its back foot and turned to optimism that vaccinations would return to some sort of normalcy this year.

But that has given way to fears that Hong Kong, like China, will remain closed for much of next year.

“Everyone I talk to expects there will definitely be no quarantine lift until the Winter Olympics (in February) and maybe not before Xi Jinping gets re-elected James, an Australian banker who spent 30 years in Hong Kong, told AFP. .

Chinese leaders will hold a meeting in October at which President Xi is expected to secure a third term, and Beijing is increasingly expected to not risk a border reopening until this sensitive date has passed.

Regular departure parties and a sudden drop in waiting lists for international schools, James said, indicated a small but steady exodus of foreign white-collar workers from Hong Kong, “especially those with families.”

A managing director of a global investment bank, who called himself John, said he had spent 49 days in quarantine in the past 15 months and was now considering moving to Singapore or London.

“We have staff moving every month,” he said, adding that he felt the Hong Kong government was “putting all the logs … in one basket” by prioritizing travel to China. compared to the rest of the world.

And Philippe, who works at a global consulting firm, described how a major competitor recently hosted an all regional heads meeting in London.

“They are all gone except their Hong Kong-based guy,” he told AFP.

” Unsustainable “

Among the stricter rules Hong Kong announced this week included the end of most of the few remaining quarantine exemptions, which included VIP turnovers deemed crucial to the city’s functioning.

Authorities also said patients recovered from the coronavirus must spend an additional 14 days in quarantine after their discharge from hospital is over.

The latter provision has drawn criticism that Hong Kong appears to be moving away from a science-based health policy.

Ben Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong who advises the government, said ending the small number of exemptions “will have huge economic costs” but is at least “evidence-based.”

“But there does not seem to be any epidemiological justification for these additional 14 days,” he told AFP, adding that none of the 10,000 patients who left Hong Kong had caused an epidemic.

The new rules are the latest public health inconsistency to fuel suspicions in Hong Kong that the coronavirus is being used to keep the population low after the democracy protests two years ago and the subsequent crackdown on dissent.

Currently, 240 people can attend an indoor wedding banquet, but more than four people eating sandwiches together in a park remain banned.

An American who works for an asset management company said his family had to go through a mandatory quarantine when someone in his apartment building tested positive.

He said he had gone from an optimist at the start of the pandemic to a “deep pessimist”.

“Covid’s policy clearly overlaps with many other political goals,” he told AFP.

When asked what another year of restrictions could do to businesses, he replied: “It is just unsustainable.”


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