Hong Kong eases travel restrictions—but only for its business elite
06/09/2020|10:13:48 AM|Fortune

Hong Kong is lifting restrictions on travel to mainland China—but only for premier business executives. And the easing of mandatory quarantine rules only works one way.

On Monday, the city’s financial services secretary Christopher Hui Ching-yu relaxed travel restrictions for executives at the top 480 companies listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, providing more leeway to firms whose corporate travel between the mainland and Hong Kong has been curtailed by 14-day mandated quarantines as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The companies getting the free pass include Chinese tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent, state-owned enterprises like the Chinese oil giant Sinopec, and the international bank HSBC. In total, the 480 firms represent roughly 95% of the total market capitalization of the 2,107 companies listed on Hong Kong’s exchange.

In a Monday press release, the Hong Kong government said that two directors or executives per company will be eligible to travel from mainland China to Hong Kong every month for “essential business activities” such as board meetings, seeing clients, and signing documents. Executives arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China will be exempt from the city’s mandatory two-week quarantine. Yet Hong Kong executives must still undergo quarantine upon reaching the mainland, though the Hong Kong government is working with authorities there to remove this requirement by way of predeparture COVID-19 testing, according to the release.

“We want to open the border step-by-step, and it will be better to allow a limited number of people first, before expanding it further,” Hui said in an interview with the Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao Daily. “It is, however, an important step to allow large companies to resume cross-border business travel to handle their business activities.”

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