Hong Kong continues to impose heavy restrictions on travel from India as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. With another wave on the horizon, India is still regarded as a “high-risk” country. Indians planning a trip to the Special Administrative Region of China may have to wait a while longer.
Few foreign nationals are currently permitted to enter Hong Kong. The Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) has maintained strict regulations on travel throughout the pandemic.
As a country that has been hit hard by COVID-19, India is no exception to Hong Kong’s travel bans.
It is hoped that in the near future, travelers with a Hong Kong Pre-arrival Registration for Indians will be able to once again visit the city and the surrounding region.
The number of coronavirus cases in India has fallen dramatically since May 2021 and various destinations are now relaxing their entry rules for Indian travelers.
However, with India preparing for a 3rd wave of COVID-19, travel restrictions to the Hong Kong SAR may remain in place for some time.
Hong Kong’s current rules stipulate that only certain travelers may enter.
These include holders of passports issued by the Hong Kong SAR, foreign residents of Hong Kong, and their spouses and children under 18, with certain conditions. Foreign students with a study visa can also enter.
In addition, anyone who has spent the previous 14 days entirely in one of the following “safe” countries can also travel to Hong Kong: Australia, New Zealand, Mainland China, or Macao.
There are other exceptions for diplomats, holders of service or official passports, deadheading crew, and merchant seamen.
For people living in India, however, things are a little more complicated.
Hong Kong also has a rule that states that anyone who has been in India for more than 2 hours within the past 21 days is barred from entering the Special Administrative Region. This includes Indian nationals who fall into the above categories, except for one. Only merchant seamen are exempt.
The same rule applies to a number of other “high-risk” countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, and the UK.
While this is bad news for residents of India, Indian nationals living in Australia, New Zealand, or China are able to take advantage of the PAR scheme and visit Hong Kong.
Likewise, Indian students traveling to Hong Kong to study can enter as long as they spend 21 days outside of India (and the other “high-risk” countries) first.
There are more rules to follow for those Indian citizens who are allowed to enter the Hong Kong SAR.
Most travelers can either book to stay in a hotel for 7 days after arrival or get fully vaccinated before traveling. Those who choose the latter option must bring a certificate to prove it.
Alternatively, if an individual has previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the 3 months before traveling and has recovered, they can bring the positive test result instead of a vaccination certificate.
All incoming passengers must fill in a Health Declaration Form for Hong Kong. This must be done online before departure. Completing this form will generate a QR code. The traveler will then have to show this to a border control officer on arrival in the HKSAR.
Travelers bound for Hong Kong should also be aware that they may be given a coronavirus test on arrival as part of general medical screening for passengers. They are also subject to quarantine regulations for up to 21 days, depending on the result of the test.
Even merchant seamen — the only people who can currently travel directly from India to Hong Kong — must take a COVID-19 nucleic acid test within 2 days before setting off and have both an approval letter from the Marine Department and another from Hong Kong’s Department of Health.
Despite these regulations, the falling rate of coronavirus cases in India is a promising sign. Many countries are removing or reducing the restrictions on travel from India as a result of this improvement.
The number of new cases per day in Hong Kong has been extremely low since May. It is likely that the travel restrictions have persisted so long in an attempt to keep these figures down.
It may be that passengers from India will have to wait a while longer before they can travel more freely to the HKSAR.Meanwhile, travel is opening between India and other destinations. Thanks to the travel bubble with Japan, Vistara has begun to operate direct flights between Delhi and Tokyo. Meanwhile, Canada, Germany, and the Maldives have all loosened their restrictions on passengers arriving from India.