Gathering ban discourages tourists from visiting Hong Kong

October 19, 2022 11:34
Photo: Reuters

There are indeed quite a lot to handle for a visitor to Hong Kong under the pandemic.

As opposed to the travel relaxation by many other countries, we still have the 0+3 self-quarantine, PCR test, mandatory all-day mask and leavehomesafe tracking on top of the gathering ban arrangement.

With the exception of gathering ban, which will be extended to 12 from four people for the first time in two years, some people might find it more stringent than going to Mars.

That is also why the Rugby 7s, one of the most difficult international sports event tickets to get in Hong Kong, still has one-third of its tickets on offer for its event in Hong Kong next month.

How can people enjoy these gatherings without beer or champagne and keep wearing masks?

To make things worse, the tone after the 20th National Congress seems to remain the same regarding the zero-Covid policy. Although there are talks that the hotel quarantine arrangement to China would be further reduced to four days from the current seven, the removal of hotel quarantine is still on the wish list without an exact date in sight.

Despite a more friendly weather that makes people look forward to the hiking season that attracts even Ronnie O’Sullivan, the World Snooker Champion, do not expect many international travelers to return.
In fact, it is quite likely more people would leave Hong Kong for Christmas than people coming to Hong Kong for vacation.

Rightly so, the strong US dollar, to which Hong Kong dollar is pegged, would make almost most foreigners pay up to 25 per cent more to stay in Hong Kong.

Even when they come here, they might have difficulty adjusting to the gathering ban.

For the record, the four-people dining ban was first implemented in March 2020 and relaxed to 50 people in June before tightening to July due to more Covid cases. In that summer, there were in-dining ban for lunch before it was reverted to only dinner ban.

From then on, the policy was switched between two and four people. In 2022, it was tightened to two people in February during the Fifth Wave but was relaxed to four since April so people can still go out and celebrate Mother’s Day.

Now live performance in the bar will be back starting tomorrow although it still has to close by 2am, when a few football fans might stay up for the World Cup matches next month.

Some said the social distancing policy is not regularly observed. From my experience, I have never been checked for the gathering ban or leavehomesafe app.

For locals, three years is just too long for keeping this disturbing social distancing rule, and for foreigners, I cannot imagine they would want to go through what we have experienced.

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EJ Insight writer