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Hong Kong scraps some restrictions for travelers, ends contact tracing

<i>Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg/Getty Images</i><br/>Hong Kong will no longer require diners to use a Covid-19 contact tracing app to enter restaurants
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Hong Kong will no longer require diners to use a Covid-19 contact tracing app to enter restaurants

By Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Hong Kong has announced it will scrap some remaining restrictions on travelers and end contact tracing, after Beijing shifted away from its hardline zero-Covid stance.

Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau told a news conference Tuesday that travelers arriving in the city would no longer be issued an “amber code” barring them from entering restaurants and bars during their first three days.

He also confirmed the end of a requirement to scan a government health app to enter public venues, but said a vaccine pass would still be needed to enter venues including restaurants.

“We have to consider measures that will help to revive our economic and social activities, Lo said, adding that the changes would take effect from Wednesday.

Travel from Hong Kong to Macao and mainland China will also be eased to “keep in line with mainland China’s policy,” Lo said.

International travelers are still required to undergo a PCR test on arrival in Hong Kong and on the second day of their visit, plus five days of rapid antigen tests. Those testing positive must isolate.

Masks also remain compulsory in all public venues, including outdoors.

Speaking earlier Tuesday, Hong Kong leader John Lee said one reason for easing restrictions was that the infection risk to the local community posed by imported cases was now lower.

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

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

On Monday, authorities in China announced a deactivation of the “mobile itinerary card” health tracking function. The system, which is separate from the health code scanning system required in a number of places in China, had used cellphone data to track people’s travel histories in order to identify those who had visited cities with zones designated as “high-risk” by authorities.

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