Hong Kong’s plan to shorten quarantine has sparked a wave of searches of travel websites by residents desperate to fly overseas, even if it means a week of isolation in a hotel room and testing Covid galore upon their return.
Hong Kong search traffic on the Skyscanner Ltd. travel booking site. climbed 43% on Monday, when the government said the quarantine would be reduced to seven days for fully vaccinated residents arriving from all but the riskiest hot spots.
Some of the most popular searches were from mainland China, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, a Skyscanner spokesperson said, although many have their own strict entry requirements. There is also a risk that countries will fall back into higher-risk categories, which require 21 days of quarantine, vaccinated or not.
Within 24 hours of Monday’s announcement of a shorter quarantine, which is due to take effect on June 30, searches for international destinations on the local Expedia Group Inc. website have increased by 10% and 40%. for Macao, according to the agency Asia- Pacific director general Catherine So.
While Hong Kong has seen near zero local infections for weeks, one or two imported cases continue to arrive, keeping authorities on their toes. This cautious approach has left a no-quarantine travel deal with Singapore hanging, even though the city-state has largely contained the virus and there is strong pent-up demand for flights between the two financial centers.
Shares of Hong Kong’s leading airline Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. are back at about the same level as a year ago at HK $ 6.89, after falling to HK $ 5.09 and reaching HK $ 7.89.
Hong Kong’s low vaccination rate remains an obstacle to reopening. Only about 17% of residents are fully vaccinated despite an abundance of vaccines and a growing number of potential prizes offered by the business community to entice people to get vaccinated.
Concerns over side effects and mistrust of the Beijing-backed government have slowed vaccination progress in the city, but the possibility of a shorter quarantine for travelers appears to have had an impact – bookings for BioNTech Ltd. and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Monday of the day before.