Hong Kong exempts treasurers from compliance with strict coronavirus quarantine

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Hong Kong exempts senior financial officers and directors of some listed companies from strict border quarantine regulations, prompting business groups to call for measures to be extended to other industries.

Banks, insurance companies, and asset management companies licensed by Hong Kong’s financial regulators can apply for two senior employees to visit and two senior employees to return to Hong Kong every month. If they are vaccinated and travel “for commercial purposes”, they do not need to be quarantined.

Directors of major index companies on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange may also apply for quarantine exemption if their travel plans are “essential” to the operation of the business. The new rules, some of which were posted on the Hong Kong government website on Friday, are effective immediately.

This decision was made because people are worried that Hong Kong’s opening speed is slower than other commercial centers. Strict quarantine policy The vaccination rate is much lower than in London, New York and Singapore. The financial services sector accounts for more than 21% of the Territory’s GDP.

Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said: “This is a welcome development and we think it should be expanded to various industries.”

However, several banks warned that they are still seeking to clarify the details of the application process, including the definition of “senior management”, and to study how to protect employees from unquarantined returning travelers.

An executive at a Wall Street bank said: “Hong Kong has always been cut off from the rest of the financial world, and now we are not.”

An executive at another U.S. bank said that the exemption looks like a “1% special treatment” but it will allow Hong Kong to maintain its status as an international financial center.

But Frederik Gollob, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said that the government needs to “much beyond” this step because the city’s quarantine requirements seem to cause a brain drain.

“People are increasingly frustrated with this de facto blockade,” Golob said, adding that companies want to relax restrictions on vaccinated travelers more broadly. “The government did not Vaccination campaign To a clear reopening strategy. “

HSBC stated that the exemption for bankers would “stimulate more economic activity in all walks of life. Protecting public health and allowing business travel to gradually return to normal can coexist.”

Passenger comes from Eight “high-risk” countries This includes the United Kingdom, India and Brazil — and almost all unvaccinated travelers — must be quarantined in hotels for 21 days after arriving in Hong Kong. Vaccinated immigrants from other places are required to undergo hotel quarantine for 14 days, except for those from Australia and New Zealand, who must be quarantined for 7 days.

Since the end of last year, global banks in Hong Kong have discussed with Asifma, an Asian capital market industry body, whether to lobby the government to exempt the travel quarantine rule. Some people worry that these rules may damage the region’s status as a global financial center.

As the city’s vaccination rate is still low, concerns have increased. Only 15% of Hong Kong’s population is fully vaccinated, compared with 28% in Singapore, 27% in London, and 43% in New York City.

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