Hong Kong will lift the ban on commercial flights from nine countries on April 1, with the quarantine period for inbound travelers to be halved to seven days, city leader Carrie Lam said Monday.
The government has suspended flights from nine countries deemed high-risk, including the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia, after a surge fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant in January.
Lam said in a press briefing that starting next month, fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents will be allowed to return to the city from any country after obtaining a negative lab test result.
The current 14-day quarantine for all inbound travelers will be slashed to seven days, during which they will undergo daily rapid testing followed by an additional week of self-monitoring provided they test negative in lab tests on days six and seven.
Meanwhile, social distancing measures will be gradually eased in three stages starting on April 21, with most measures set to be relaxed after three months.
The changes come as the city begins to recover from an unprecedented wave of COVID-19 infections fueled by the rapid Omicron spread that saw record daily cases of nearly 77,000 earlier this month.
Last week, Hong Kong marked 1 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with over 5,000 COVID-related deaths.