Hong Kong introduces compulsory two-week hotel quarantine for all arriving airline staff

Both cargo and passenger flight crew will need to be quarantined.
Both cargo and passenger flight crew will need to be quarantined. Photo credit: Getty

Hong Kong authorities are set to implement a new rule which will require flight crew entering the Asian financial hub for more than two hours to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks.

The South China Morning Post has reported that the rule will be put in place from next week and will include all pilots and cabin crew on passenger and cargo flights.

Many foreign airlines are already double-crewing their flights into Hong Kong or stopping in cities like Bangkok or Tokyo to allow for quick turnarounds to avoid testing and quarantine requirements.

That means local staff at Cathay Pacific Airways are likely to be hit hardest by the new rule, however Cathay Pacific declined to comment when approached by Reuters.

"In light of the evolving pandemic situation locally and internationally, the government will keep reviewing and refining the arrangements applicable to different categories of exempted persons, including air crew, with reference to all relevant considerations," Hong Kong’s Transport and Housing Bureau told Reuters.

Locally based crew members are currently required to be tested on arrival and to stay in a hotel for 24 hours until their test results have arrived. They are confined to hotels when they are at overseas destinations.

Many other Asian countries have also put in place strict requirements for international flight crews.

Australia requires foreign crews to be tested and isolated in designated quarantine hotels until their next flight out of the country.

Locally based Australian crews must get tested and self-isolate at home until their next flight or for 14 days if they have no flight during that period, but are not subject to hotel quarantine.

Emirates, which had temporarily halted flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane due to Australia’s strict testing rules, said on Thursday it would resume those flights later this month. Emirates said crew would now self-quarantine at their homes in Dubai for testing 48 hours before flying to Australia.