Cathay Pacific Airways passenger jets 09122018
Cathay Pacific Airways passenger jets on the tarmac at Hong Kong's international airport [Illustrative image] Image Credit: AFP

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced an end to hotel quarantine and pre-flight laboratory tests for travelers from September 26, the most significant step toward reopening since the pandemic began. Following this announcement, Cathay Pacific said they would add more than 200 pairs of passenger flights in October to both regional and long-haul destinations.

The statement added, "In view of Japan’s relaxation of travel restrictions for inbound visitors, Cathay Pacific will resume daily flights to Tokyo (Haneda) from 1 November and four-times-weekly flights to Sapporo from 1 December. We will also increase flight frequencies to Tokyo (Narita) to 43 pairs and Osaka to 50 pairs in October."

For non-residents, Hong Kong allows only vaccinated travellers from outside of China, except those with a medical reason explaining why they can't be immunized. The other exception is for young children accompanying a qualified person.

Travellers to Hong Kong no longer have to bring proof of a negative PCR test performed no more than 48 hours prior to their departure flight, with a rapid test now sufficing. The number of tests will ratchet up to about a dozen after landing, however. A daily rapid test is required for the first week, with PCR laboratory tests done on arrival and on days two, four and six.

After arrival at the Hong Kong airport, travellers can head out to their chosen venue - either a residence or a hotel room - to serve their three-day self-monitoring period.