Covid-19: Taxis may now take Hong Kong arrivals to quarantine hotels; gov’t trials extended pre-flight health forms

Those arriving in Hong Kong can now hire designated taxis to take them to their quarantine hotels, the government has announced.

Meanwhile, from Thursday, all inbound travellers will be asked to complete a more comprehensive health declaration form online before flying into the city.

Designated Quarantine Hotel taxis. Photo: GovHK.

The government announced in a statement on Monday that, under the coordination of the Transport and Logistics Bureau, the city’s taxi trade has arranged 100 vehicles for arrivals to hire to go to designated quarantine hotels.

A trial of the taxi services, operating from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, was launched on Monday.

Lam Sai-hung, the secretary for transport and logistics, told the press on Monday that authorities reacted to community demands for the new taxi arrangement.

Each taxi can only carry a maximum of three passengers as the front seat must be left empty, he said.

In light of “anti-epidemic costs” and the fact that drivers will not be able to pick up other passengers, the government will give each driver a daily subsidy of HK$1,500.

Lam Sai-hung. File photo: GovHK.

The official said he was unable to provide an estimation of costs at the moment as more vehicles may be added to the fleet if the service was popular among visitors.

Currently, arrivals at Hong Kong’s airport can take free coaches, or pay for hotel limousines, to travel to designated quarantine hotels.

The government’s statement said there are currently 18 coach routes. Each trip takes up to two hours and covers three to five hotels.

Extended health declaration form

Meanwhile, starting Thursday, all inbound travellers coming to Hong Kong will be asked to complete a longer health declaration form online – including Covid-19 vaccination proof and reservation reference numbers for the quarantine hotels they booked – before boarding their flight.

At the moment, travellers are allowed to submit their declaration after landing and do not have to provide vaccination proof or their hotel booking reference.

Under the new arrangement, travellers will get a QR code – which will remain valid for 96 hours – after they complete the extended online health declaration, the Health Bureau announced on Sunday. They will have to present it to the airline at check-in before boarding their flight to Hong Kong.

The arrangement will be implemented “on a trial basis” at first, during which people who cannot present the code will still be permitted to board the plane.

The statement did not specify an end date for the trial, but said that upon its completion, travellers “must obtain the electronic health declaration QR code” before boarding a flight to Hong Kong.

“[I]nbound persons who have verified the required information through the declaration system will be allowed to make use of the ‘express channel’ at the airport… thus significantly cutting down the time they need to spend at the airport,” a government spokesperson said in the statement.

The city reported 4,130 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, of which 224 were imported. There were three more related deaths.

As of Sunday, Hong Kong had registered 1,321,993 Covid-19 infections and 9,469 related deaths.

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