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Hong Kong to let top bankers bypass strict quarantine rules


The city government has announced that two top executives of banks or insurance companies who are fully vaccinated can apply for a quarantine exemption each month.

They would still be required to book rooms in quarantine hotels or stay in another approved location, but would be allowed to travel around the city for scheduled business meetings. Hong Kong has required most people traveling from overseas to wear a tracking bracelet and self-isolate in a hotel room for three weeks.

“The government and the various financial services regulators believe that Hong Kong should help financial institutions to maintain their normal activities in a context of [pandemic], in order to ensure the stability of the financial system and maintain Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center, ”the government said in a statement.

Visiting bankers must submit an itinerary and will still need to pass multiple Covid-19 tests during their stay. Senior executives of listed companies will also be able to apply.

HSBC (HBCYF), which announced in April the transfer of four of its most senior executives to Hong Kong this year applauded the decision.

“While the pandemic has shown how much can be accomplished virtually, a measured approach to facilitating business travel to and from Hong Kong could help stimulate more economic activity in a range of sectors,” he said. the London-based bank said in a statement.

But the Hong Kong American Chamber of Commerce questioned the fairness of the policy.

“While we appreciate the government taking action to open up travel to major bankers in the financial services industry, this move appears to be strangely unfair, as it does not apply to other industries as well, many of which have investments. important in Hong Kong and the region, ”said President Tara Joseph.

Joseph noted that the the policy appears to exclude the aviation, technology and legal sectors, as well as the arts.

The lobby group urges the Hong Kong government to treat the program for financial executives as a pilot project that can then be scaled up to other industries, and to loosen travel rules more widely for fully vaccinated people.

– Michelle Toh and Eric Cheung contributed reporting.

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