HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong is set to require flight crew entering the Asian financial hub for more than two hours to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday, citing sources.
The rule to be put in place from next week will include all pilots and cabin crew on passenger and cargo flights, sources told the newspaper, as the Chinese territory looks to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Many foreign airlines are already double-crewing their flights into Hong Kong or stopping in cities like Bangkok or Tokyo to allow for quick turnarounds to avoid testing and quarantine requirements.
That means local staff at Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd are likely to be hit hardest by the new rule, SCMP said. Cathay Pacific declined to comment.
Hong Kong’s Transport and Housing Bureau told Reuters: “In light of the evolving pandemic situation locally and internationally, the government will keep reviewing and refining the arrangements applicable to different categories of exempted persons, including air crew, with reference to all relevant considerations.”
Locally based crew members currently are required to be tested on arrival and to stay in a hotel for 24 hours awaiting results. They are confined to hotels when they are at overseas destinations.
Many other Asian countries have also put in place strict requirements for international flight crews.
Australia requires foreign crews to be tested and isolate in designated quarantine hotels until their next flight out of the country.
Locally based Australian crews must get tested and self-isolate at home until their next flight or for 14 days if they have no flight during that period, but are not subject to hotel quarantine.
Emirates, which had temporarily halted flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane due to Australia’s strict testing rules, said on Thursday it would resume those flights later this month. Emirates said crew would now self-quarantine at their homes in Dubai for testing 48 hours before flying to Australia.
(Reporting by Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong; additional reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Barbara Lewis and David Gregorio)