The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said Hong Kong, home to some of the world’s biggest banks, has offered top bankers exemptions from strict COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.
The new measure allows senior executives to request to be exempted from a mandatory 21-day quarantine if they have received all doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
It came after authorities recently warned that the slow inoculation uptake could harm the city’s position as a global financial center. Hong Kong has faced some of the strictest quarantine restrictions in the world.
According to the announcement, up to two senior executives from each SFC-licensed service company and two of their overseas affiliates can apply for the waiver.
Moreover, those requesting the mandatory quarantine exemption must provide the SFC with some documents five days before their trip, including a copy of their passport photo page or identity card, an itinerary of their visit, and a vaccination certificate. They must show they had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The SFC is the official body in charge of issuing licenses that allow investment banks, securities brokers, asset managers and other firms to operate in Hong Kong.
People granted the waiver could only attend authorized events and activities in the itinerary provided by the authorities and self-isolate the rest of the time. Any executive found violating the rules would lose that exemption and must comply with a three-week quarantine.
They could also face six months in prison and a fine of HK $5,000 ($ 644) if they fail to comply with orders.
The group of people who do not have to comply with a mandatory quarantine also includes government officials. The exemption moves followed collective, growing rejection against COVID-19 vaccines.
Last week, Hong Kong warned that it could be forced to throw away large stocks of coronavirus jabs due to people’s refusal to get inoculated.
Authorities assured enough doses to vaccine the entire population, but less than 20% of the citizens have received a shot. However, the government has struggled to revitalize the city’s economy after the pandemic and protracted political tensions pushed Hong Kong into its worst recession.