Hong Kong has launched a compulsory quarantine program for travelers from all foreign countries and territories in a bid to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Key Points:

Anyone who has stayed in a foreign country or territory in the past 14 days, regardless of nationality or travel document, will be subject to compulsory quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Hong Kong.

Those subject to quarantine will either be quarantined at a place determined by an authorized officer or at a place requested by the person arriving in Hong Kong, depending on the circumstances. They will also be required to wear a smart wristband so that their whereabouts could be checked.

Exemptions are available for air crew, sea crew on goods vessels, government officials, experts engaged in fighting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, those providing materials for carrying out home quarantine and a limited number of others. The full list of exemptions is available here.

Some who are subject to quarantine may be tested for the COVID-19 virus.

The quarantine program will be in place for three months until June 18.

Additional information: Hong Kong established compulsory quarantine on Feb. 8 for anyone who has been in Mainland China in the past 14 days. This order remains in place. When taken together with the new quarantine for anyone traveling from any foreign country or territory, this means that only people traveling to Hong Kong from Macau or Taiwan will not be subject to quarantine.

Analysis & Comments: The change represents Hong Kong’s most significant move yet to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Employers are advised to account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly. The penalties for failing to follow quarantine rules are stiff, including fines of up to HK$25,000 or six months’ imprisonment.

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