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Covid policies amid pandemic in Singapore, Hong Kong


Hong Kong residents waited to be tested for Covid-19 nucleic Acid on April 28, 2022. Although Singapore is making steady progress to reopen over the last months, Hong Kong still has restrictions which critics believe are costing its business and talent. Singapore remains the prime beneficiary.

Chen Yongnuo | China News Service | Getty Images

Daniel Chow was forced to leave. Singapore in 2020 for a job in Hong KongHe expected his wife and their two sons to join him once the Chinese territory was freed from the influenza pandemic. shifted away from its “zero-Covid” strategy.

After two years of frustration Chow is now back in Singapore. He cites the continuing constraints of Hong Kong life, even though the rest of the globe opens up.

Chow (43), who is an investment advisor, stated that “we decided that my family will not move” to Hong Kong. Chow, 43, who works in investment services said that schools are being shut down and there are strict restrictions regarding movement. The most affected are children.” 

For most of the pandemic, Hong Kong and Singapore — both densely populated Asian financial hubs with residents from all over the world — kept virus cases and deaths to a minimum with border closures, strict quarantine requirements and extensive testing and contact tracing.

However, while Singapore has made steady progress in recent months to reopen, Hong Kong is still restricted. This, critics claim, costs it talent and business. 

Singapore was one of the first Asian countries to open their borders to the outside world. The city’s removal of mandatory quarantines, predeparture screenings for people who have been vaccinated and an outdoor mask requirement has seen travel increase in recent weeks. A city with more than 5,000,000 inhabitants reports an average of 6,000 cases per day.

Hong Kong has also taken steps to relax restrictions. They reopened the border to nonresidents and resumed in-person classes. Bars and other businesses were allowed to reopen for business since January.

But passengers arriving from overseas are still required to quarantine in hotels for seven days at their own expense — a burden for frequent travelers like Chow, who had been returning to Singapore to see his family.

According to him, “This was a big reason I left Hong Kong. And it’s even more important than the reasons that brought me here in the first instance which were lots of job opportunities.”

Hong Kong’s strict policy of not allowing mainland China to enter Hong Kong remains in place. taken a similar “zero-Covid” approach. The mainland is yet to recover from the most severe pandemic since its inception. That makes it unlikely Hong Kong will reopen to the outside world anytime soon. 

Carrie LamHong Kong’s chief Executive said that she was unlikely to relax hotel quarantine or testing-on arrival requirements before her departure at June end, due to the danger of new viruses. A city with 7.4 million people is currently reporting between 200 and 300 cases of coronavirus each day.

Lam’s successor, John LeeHe has stated that reopening China mainland and to the rest of the World is one his main priorities. However, the business community in the city has become increasingly frustrated with officials who are being pressed by lobby groups to remove the quarantine requirements or allow travellers to quarantine at their homes.

Betty Yuen, who is now the chairwoman of Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce said last month, “Resuming travel is of paramount importance. It doesn’t matter if it is with the continent or foreign countries.” We have become almost isolated islands because of our strict restrictions.

Travel restrictions are also having a negative impact on the flight schedules to and from Hong Kong International Airport, once one of the most busy airports worldwide. Only 126,000 passengers traveled through Hong Kong International Airport last April, as compared to 6.5million in April 2019.

Willie Walsh (director general, International Air Transport Association) told journalists in Singapore that Hong Kong would need years to regain its status as an international aviation hub.

He stated that the opportunity was going to travel to other regional airports. It will be a clear benefit for Singapore, I believe.

Singapore’s restrictions on pandemics have also had an impact on its people, and some expatriates cited them as one reason they left. Teo Yik Yang, an economist and dean of School of Public Health, at the National University of Singapore, stated that the government had stressed the importance of opening the economy in the wake of the pandemic.  

“In comparison,” he stated, noting that it has been difficult for Hong Kong to take unilateral action because its pandemic policies are tied to those of mainland China.

Singapore’s government was also praised for communicating with the public throughout the pandemic. Ying stated that this helped to build trust. 

This level of trust has been lacking in Hong Kong where there was a strong crackdown against dissent in 2019. The government was criticized during the pandemic for its inconsistent messages and its reactive actions.

As the worst pandemic hit Hong Kong, talk of Hong Kong being evacuated soared. Rumours of an extensive lockdown and fears that children would be separated from their parents through quarantine policies prompted thousands of people to flee Hong Kong, at the very least temporarily.

Singapore offers a great alternative for people working in finance. However, there are many obstacles that can be overcome to move there. This has led some Hong Kong families and businesses to reconsider their plans. 

Because of concerns that foreigners would steal jobs from Singaporeans, the city has tightened its requirements for work visas.

Walter Theseira (associate professor of economics, Singapore University of Social Sciences Business School) stated, “Everyone in Singapore is open to expatriates as well as foreign businesses to Singapore. But the key thing is that they must add value to Singapore’s economy.”

The property market in Singapore was rising even before Hong Kong arrived, which also led to an increase in the demand for private school spaces.

Theseira explained that “It would concern families who are trying to move here” because she heard from others that they couldn’t get spots in schools.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore welcomes competition from Hong Kong. He believes this makes the region “vibrant and dynamic.”

He told The Wall Street Journal’s editorial staff in April that while they are pleased to receive them, we would prefer if they would stay in Hong Kong.

Ying hopes that Hong Kong’s doors will be opened to all nations soon.

“Hong Kong’s importance to China and Hong Kong itself is important, but so too for China as a strategic economic and transport hub in this region of the globe,” he stated. The entire region is affected if Hong Kong’s economic health suffers. Therefore, it’s to everybody’s benefit that Hong Kong is able resume its role as Asia’s economic center.