Shares of Hong Kong-listed stocks were higher after Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, announced the end of all Covid-19 restrictions, following a similar move by mainland China weeks ago.
Almost all Covid measures will be dropped on Thursday, including the mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for all inbound travelers, the vaccine pass scheme, and quarantine requirements for close contacts, South China Morning Post reported.
Chief Executive John Lee said the mask mandate will still be required. He explained:
“We will not return to the old road [of tightening pandemic control].”
Lee said all social distancing measures would be relaxed, including banning groups of more than a dozen people.
According to government figures, 93% of the population has been double-vaxxed, while 83% have been tripled-vaxxed. Unlike China, Hong Kong has used mRNA vaccines – including the BioNTech jab.
“Hong Kong has a sufficient amount of medicine to fight Covid, and healthcare workers have gained rich experience in facing the pandemic,” Lee said.
HKFP_Live: Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee meets the press [English interpretation] https://t.co/kNZokmyUZt
— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) December 28, 2022
Since the early days of the pandemic, Hong Kong has followed lockstep with Beijing in implementing strict Covid measures. But now, since China’s recent decision to ease rules on travel in and out of the country and reopen its economy, Hong Kong has done the same.
Investors were pleased with Hong Kong’s decision. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index jumped as much as 3% but trimmed gains and closed up nearly 2%. The index has pierced above the 200-day displaced moving average for the first time since June 2021.
Hong Kong and China’s road to a full reopening won’t be seamless but bumpy into the new year. This is precisely what we’ve seen when other countries have reopened. The years of self-imposed global isolation for the second-largest economy [China] appear to be over ahead of 2023.