Arriving in Hong Kong during Covid-19: what you should know beforehand

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

As you are landing in Hong Kong the air hostess will announce the compulsory quarantine in Hong Kong - not that you'd be able to do anything about this, of course.

In reality you must prepare in advance for the quarantine: finding a place where you are happy to spend 14 days in isolation, downloading an app and filling out a compulsory declaration form.

Once in Hong Kong - and before picking up your luggage - you will pass some stands in the airport where you will have to undergo a number or procedures: measuring your temperature, downloading your “stayhomesafe” app (if you haven’t done this already) that will be connected to the electronic bracelet that you will be given and the health declaration form (which you can fill in online and where you must fill in your flight number, seat number and if you have traveled in the previous 14 days to the flight to high-risk Covid-19 countries). After you have filled in the form you will get a QR code that you will have to keep and show, as proof that you have compiled the form to the local authorities.

After this, officials will check that your phone number is working, because one of the ways they can check you are doing the quarantine is to call you. Coming from abroad you might not have roaming activated on your phone, but without a working phone the officials will be very reluctant to let you go and you may have problems.

If your phone doesn't work they may be willing to accept a phone number of the hotel where you are staying and the address where you will be staying after the quarantine ends (if it isn't the same).

You will also need to provide the address where you will do the quarantine because the officials might come and check (if for example there is a problem with your electronic bracelet).

Only after all of this can you collect your luggage and finally set foot outside the airport. You will get on a shuttle bus that will bring you to Asia Wold expo to continue the procedures. Asia expo is very close to the airport so the journey only takes 5/10 minutes.

Once you arrive here you will be asked to leave any luggage that you don't immediately need. You will get a tag to pick it up later. Then you will leave again that building and take the shuttle again to reach another part of Asia expo to carry out the Covid test.

When you arrive you will be explained how to do the saliva test. You must pay attention as they don’t do it for you, you will have to do the test by yourself.

You will receive a plastic bag that contains a tube, some hand sanitiser (to clean your hands before the test) and a sort of funnel that will help to make sure that, when you spit in the tube, the saliva will only go inside the tube and not on the outside part.

Staff don't always speak good English but if something isn’t clear don’t worry, before the test you will be able to watch the procedure on a maxi screen, with a video tutorial in English and Chinese.

After watching the video tutorial you will go to single cabin (similar to the ones you might have used to vote). The room is huge and has hundreds of cabins. You will be assigned an alphanumeric number of the cabin where to take the test. After you do the test, you will return the tube to the authorities and they will assign you a number. After that you will go back to the room where you left your luggage (without taking the shuttle but through an internal passageway).

There another member of staff will assign you a number that corresponds to the number of table where you should wait for the results. Be prepared because the wait is usually around eight to ten hours. During this time you will be allowed to access your luggage, go to the toilets, have a walk inside the big area.

If you are travelling with someone you are also allowed to talk and interact with them. During the long wait staff will distribute food. But again be prepared: it isn't very much and definitely isn’t something you will be looking forwards to eating again. Sometimes they make you choose between two types of sandwiches (but often none of the options are for vegetarians), and two bottles of water. There is free Wi-Fi but the connection isn’t good.

During the wait there isn’t much happening, except that you will receive another kit for a Covid-19 test to be done on the 12th day of your quarantine. When you receive it don’t worry, it doesn't mean that they are testing you again because you resulted positive to the first test!

When the results arrive someone will come to your table to let you know if you are positive or negative.

If you are negative you will be given some information in writing about the penalty for disobeying the quarantine and how to deal with the quarantine in a shared flat. You will pass a few checkpoints where you will be asked to show the number that was assigned to you to prove that you are negative and free to go to your quarantine place. You can reach your quarantine place by taxi or public transport.

When you arrive at your place of quarantine you must activate the app and in order to do so you are supposed to walk about your room or flat for a minute until a message saying “successfully registered” appears on the screen.

You are also asked to keep a record of your temperature every day and you will receive phone calls from the authorities to ask about your temperature.

For information about finding a hotel in Hong Kong where you can spend your 14 days of quarantine, click here.

Have a look at our expats guidebook to Hong Kong for plenty of useful information on moving to Hong Kong.

Note that when you do the test on the 12th day no one will collect it for you. You are responsible to return it. You can ask a friend or you can pay a courrier to do so (it isn’t cheap, it costs around 700 HKD).

If you land after noon, the results won’t receive the tests until the day after and you will be required to stay in an hotel assigned by the government, often the Regal Hotel, near the airport. The hotel is free for the guests. You will be required to stay in the room sometimes until noon of the day after. Don’t expect luxury hotels or even spotless places. (I read there are many people who complains about the conditions of the hotel but of course I havent seen it).

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