Hong Kong’s Chief Executive is hopeful the finance hub can reopen its borders once the current Covid outbreak subsides.

Carrie Lam said on Thursday that she’s “very optimistic” Hong Kong can continue discussions to reopen the border with mainland China as well as "open up to the rest of the world" once "this wave subsides".

Hong Kong’s government has moved away from the Zero Covid policy. As from next week, hotel quarantine will be halved to seven days, and flight bans on certain countries will be scrapped. However, according to several business groups, the government needs to do more. On Wednesday, the Chief Executive said officials were considering ways to resolve flight and hotel room shortages under the current rules.

The social distancing and isolation regulations in Hong Kong have resulted in many residents leaving, as well as increasing economic difficulties. Around 144,000 people have left Hong Kong this year, Business Times reports, four times as many as 2021, as per official data and Bloomberg Intelligence calculations. In addition, analysts have downgraded their growth forecasts for the year.

Before the pandemic hit, Hong Kong was one of the world’s most visited destinations. Over 65 million tourists visited the city in 2018, whereas in 2021 it was "close to zero,” said the city's tourism board.

In contrast to Hong Kong’s closed borders, an increasing number of Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand are taking action to allow entrance to vaccinated visitors.

The wearing of a face covering remains mandatory in Hong Kong, even when exercising. Those caught without wearing a mask could face a fine of HK$5,000.

When questioned as to whether Hong Kong would follow Singapore’s approach to easing restrictions, Carrie Lam stated: "It's not meaningful to ask us to choose, whether you're going for route A or route B. We'll have to adjust and do whatever is in the best interest of Hong Kong."

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