Hong Kong’s strict zero-covid approach is the biggest frustration for overseas companies operating there, an analyst told CNBC on Tuesday.
The city is sticking to strict Covid measures – with up to three weeks of mandatory quarantine and other testing requirements – even if authorities have relaxed similar restrictions elsewhere.
Asked how Local politics and Covid measures are hurting business confidence in Hong Kong, the founder of publishing and research firm Big Brains said the latter was the bigger concern.
“I think it’s more frustrating right now in Hong Kong, especially with overseas companies… keeping up with its zero-covid strategy – and its announcement that it is going to stand up for [the] Rest of China before it opens up to the rest of the world – which makes business people here, their families, and their general lifestyle quite frustrating, “said Simon Cartledge.
“It’s been a long time,” he said. “It is very difficult to travel.”
The Hong Kong and mainland authorities have worked towards the establishment Quarantine-free travel between the two regions. China has one too Zero Covid Strategy.
Hong Kong again this week tightened measures as Omicron cases increased worldwide.
The city has stuck to its zero-covid approach, although the number of cases is small compared to other places in Asia. According to Our World in Data, the city has a 7-day moving average of 0.72 daily cases per million population as of December 19, compared with 66.75 for Singapore and 1.14 for Japan.
Governments in the Asia-Pacific region, including Singapore and New Zealand, initially took an aggressive approach through bans and tight restrictions on most of the pandemic. But many countries around the world have shifted to a “living with Covid” approach as vaccination rates have increased.
However, Allan Zeman, chairman of property developer Lan Kwai Fong Group, argued that strict Covid rules helped Hong Kong stay safe.
“But that has worked the other way around, it has helped Hong Kong because we can walk freely on the streets. Everyone wears a mask. It’s very, very important, ”he told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia. “I think in general we are safe and it is different from the horror stories I am currently watching in Europe and the US.”
Several Cities across Europe are reintroducing restrictions. In the UK, cases double roughly every two days as London hospital admissions increase. On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Omicron is now that dominant strain of Covid in the USAwhich accounts for 73% of the sequenced cases. The average daily number of cases in New York City more than doubled for the week ending Friday, December 17.
Zeman said consumer spending has been “incredible” over the past six months as fewer people are leaving the area. Hong Kong retail sales rose for the ninth straight month in October, up 12% year over year to Hong Kong dollars ($ 3.94 billion), according to government data in November, according to Reuters.
Attack on the “five eyes”
Zeman, who was running for the Hong Kong Legislative Council this week, defended changes to the Hong Kong electoral system and attacked the Five Eyes intelligence nations who criticized the revision.
the Five eyes alliance, consisting of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain and the USA, made a statement on Monday and expressed “serious concern about the erosion of democratic elements” in the Hong Kong electoral system.
Previously, half of the representatives on the Hong Kong Legislative Council were directly elected by regular Hong Kongers; according to new rules, was about a fifth. A Electoral Committee which previously had limited powers, now selects almost half of the council representatives directly, and it screens anyone who wants to run for the other places.
Zeman, who lost his race but is the economic advisor to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, said, “I would defend Hong Kong by saying that Five Eyes should focus on their own countries and look at their systems first, which is what I do do not think works very well. I believe this is a new system for Hong Kong that can really work. “