Expat Executives Stranded by Hong Kong's COVID Flights Ban from 8 Countries

The government announced that it will extend the implementation of the "circuit breaker mechanism" for flights in 8 countries for 14 days until February 4, saying that the local epidemic situation is still very serious, and that it is necessary to continue preventing COVID-19 cases from being imported into China. According to foreign reports, due to the flight ban, executives at banking giants are struggling to return to Hong Kong after the city banned flights from eight countries. Analysis pointed out that Hong Kong's strict epidemic prevention regulations are seriously affecting its status as an international financial hub.

Since January 8, the Hong Kong government has implemented the place-specific flight suspension mechanism for Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United All passenger flights from these eight places will be prohibited from landing in Hong Kong, and at the same time, persons who have stayed in these places for more than two hours will be restricted from boarding passenger flights for Hong Kong.

As quoted from Bloomberg, at least a dozen Hong Kong-based managing directors at banks, also including Morgan Stanley and UBS Group AG. Those stuck include division heads in investment banking, wealth and asset management and other functions. The investment bank paid executives to take a detour, arranging them to fly to medium- or low-risk countries before booking flights back to Hong Kong, the report said. Singapore and Hong Kong are in the same time zone, making it the ideal transit destination, sources said. The AA also announced on Thursday that from Sunday, January 16 to February 15, passengers who have stayed in 140 high-risk areas will be banned from transiting or transiting through Hong Kong.

Edward Yau Tang-wah: There is no timetable for international customs clearance

In an interview with the Financial Times, the Secretary for Commerce and Economics, Edward Yau, said that Hong Kong has “no definitive timeline” for lifting restrictions on international borders this year. He said that some cities around the country have lockdowns for many times due to the epidemic, and the medical systems of some cities are heavily burdened. Hong Kong's anti-epidemic strategy provides the greatest guarantee for the local business environment, and it is also the safest model. Therefore, the government insists on maintaining the city’s zero-Covid strategy.

Steve Vickers, CEO of Steve Vickers and Associates, Political & Corporate Risk Consultancy, commented in our interview that, “there is no doubt that Hong Kong’s existing quarantine policy – one of the strictest in the world – is materially affecting our status as a global financial hub, let alone the severe damage that is being done to local business. The longer these regulations continue the greater the impact. It may take Hong Kong years to recover.” He also said that, “further flight bans can only make this situation far worse. Whilst one must understand and have sympathy with the mainland’s zero-covid policy (especially in the lead up to the Olympics) there is still room for flexibility here in Hong Kong – especially given the mainland border being firmly shut with little prospect of reopening in the short term. We must protect our financial hub status to be of longer term use to the mainland and for local employment.” Steve Vickers said.

(Original – Chinese version)

8國禁飛多兩周 外資高層難回港






风险顾问公司Steve Vickers and Associates行政总裁Steve Vickers向本报指出,香港的检疫政策是世界上最严格之一,但当前政策正严重损害香港国际金融中心地位,更不用说对本地企业造成的冲击。这些措施维持时间愈长,影响就愈深远,或需数年才恢复。他又说,延长禁飞令更使情况恶化,可理解内地在冬奥前维持零容忍政策,但考虑到香港短期与内地通关机会渺茫,应有空间放宽与国际往来,而且香港须保护其金融中心地位,才对内地长远发展更有利。