Hong Kong's government said on Monday it would shorten the COVID-19 hotel quarantine period for all arrivals to three days from seven, taking another step in slowly unwinding stringent pandemic rules.
The measures will be effective from Friday, the city's leader, John Lee, told a press conference.
Arrivals will need to self monitor for a further four days, during which they will be forbidden to enter such premises as restaurants and bars.
"We need to balance between people's livelihood and the competitiveness of Hong Kong to give the community maximum momentum and economic vitality," Lee said.
People in quarantine will be issued a red code on a government mandated app. This will change to a yellow code once they leave quarantine, signifying they may not enter crowded premises.
Quarantine was formerly as long as three weeks. Currently, all arrivals must spend at least a week in hotel quarantine and comply with frequent testing orders, provide faecal samples for babies and fill out multiple forms.
Only a select number of hotels are available for quarantine.
Rooms are costly and are typically booked out months in advance. Payment is made up front and refunds are not permitted unless there is a change in government policy or flight cancellation.
Hong Kong's competitiveness has been hammered by the pandemic measures, business executives have said, hoping Lee, the city's leader since July 1, would scrap the quarantine rules.
The city's border has been almost completely sealed since 2020, with international arrivals facing tough quarantine and testing protocols. It is one of the last places in the world still imposing quarantine for arrivals.
Lee has pledged to reconnect Hong Kong with the mainland and the rest of the world.
Hong Kong's popular international Rugby Sevens event will take place November 4-6 for the first time in more than three years. It was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of pandemic measures.