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Fitch warns foreign travel ban threatens Hong Kong’s business status


Worldwide enterprise teams in Hong Kong are pleading with the federal government to restart flights as a ranking company warned {that a} ban on international journey would deter firms from utilizing Hong Kong as their regional headquarters.

Executives who travelled residence for Christmas have been stranded outdoors of the Asian monetary hub after authorities suspended flights from eight nations, together with the US and the UK, to protect the town from the Omicron variant.

David Graham, government director of the British Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong, mentioned the “unlucky” flight ban had taken many unexpectedly.

“It would inevitably trigger appreciable disturbance and inconvenience, significantly for the numerous Hong Kong-based executives and workers who travelled to the UK for the Christmas interval to be with household and who had been trying to return to Hong Kong early in January,” he advised the Monetary Occasions.

“We very a lot hope that the ban can be for a really restricted interval given the in depth quarantine and testing measures already in place for these coming back from the UK.”

Hong Kong, which is pursuing a “zero-Covid” coverage, has reimposed many social distancing rules after an outbreak that was seeded by Cathay Pacific flight crew, who had been exempt from traveller quarantine orders.

Flights from the eight nations had been banned for a 14-day interval on Wednesday final week. Different airways, resembling Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic, have briefly halted flights as a result of they had been unable to accommodate the Hong Kong authorities’s quarantine necessities for crew.

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The federal government mentioned extra stringent measures needed to be carried out as a result of the town was going through the danger of a “main outbreak”.

Fitch Rankings mentioned, nonetheless, that the brand new restrictions might damp Hong Kong’s financial development prospects. “We consider the tightening of restrictions on worldwide arrivals will create additional obstacles to the territory’s potential to function a regional headquarters for international multinationals,” it mentioned.

Hong Kong has additionally just lately launched a seven-day obligatory quarantine for pilots and crew working cargo flights. The measure has created mayhem for flight schedules, with Cathay Pacific slicing its cargo capability to twenty per cent and passenger capability to 2 per cent of pre-pandemic ranges.

The newest flight cancellations prompted warnings of steep worth rises for meals.

These wishing to enter Hong Kong from most nations are already topic to 3 weeks’ isolation in a resort and in some instances a authorities quarantine facility.

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The restrictions have prevented the deaths and strains on well being programs seen elsewhere, however have additionally lower the town off from the remainder of the world.

On the similar time, nonetheless, the town has failed to influence the very aged to be inoculated, with simply over 20 per cent of individuals aged 80 and over vaccinated.

Worldwide enterprise teams have beforehand warned that Hong Kong risked its crown because the area’s premier monetary centre if it didn’t reopen its borders.

“The flight restrictions add one more degree of stress, value and uncertainty for enterprise executives residing in Hong Kong,” mentioned Tara Joseph, head of The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, which represents 1,400 firms within the Chinese language territory.

“Some individuals are stranded, others are terrified of what’s subsequent and there’s no indication of when this may finish.”

The US consulate in Hong Kong mentioned there wanted to be “larger dialogue and transparency relating to journey, testing and quarantine measures that have an effect on Hong Kong as a spot to dwell and do enterprise”.

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