It has been almost two years before Norris Fong last saw his family in Singapore, where he was born and raised. He’s got enough of it now. The 33-year-old designer buyer is leaving Hong Kong shortly to return to his native country, citing dissatisfaction with the city’s coronavirus limitations and the absence of a clear reopening strategy as reasons for his decision.
Expats In Hong Kong Are Outraged By The Quarantine Measures.
Fong isn’t the only one who feels this way. Hong Kong and Singapore have long been rivals for the title of Asia’s top global commercial center; however, as the Chinese city’s country lines remain practically blocked, some companies and ex-pats are becoming impatient and looking to the Southeast Asian metropolis for relief.
Some businesses were already evaluating the advantages of Singapore over Hong Kong as a centralized Asian commercial center, particularly as Beijing started to tighten its control on the former British colony. However, as the epidemic approaches the two-year mark, their ideas for controlling the virus have risen to the forefront of discussion.
Like many Asian nations, Hong Kong has adopted a “zero Covid” policy, emphasizing social distance, restricting travel, and excluding the majority of non-residents from entering the territory. The vast majority of visitors coming to the city must deal with one of the world’s longest prevention measures, which may last up to 3 weeks in a hotel room at their own expense. Singapore originally imposed a similarly onerous rule on its citizens.
Although the government has started to adopt a “living with Covid” strategy in recent months, it has also announced intentions to ease certain restrictions and resume foreign travel with select nations, such as Germany and the United Kingdom.
In addition, the city-state increasingly often permits individuals to isolate themselves at home for 14 days. This month, Singapore’s concept has already been challenged and, in some ways, foiled by a new outbreak of the Delta strain, which has forced the city-state to postpone any further reopening efforts.
Some opponents also point out that, unlike Hong Kong, Singapore continues to have a variety of additional limitations that make it difficult to go about one’s everyday business. Until August, for example, individuals were not permitted to congregate in public areas in groups larger than two, while Hong Kong has allowed groupings of up to four persons to congregate in public places for months. There is no conclusion in sight. Many Hong Kong residents, however, believe that the grass is still greener in the South China Sea.
Despite the fact that progress on easing burdensome pandemic restrictions has slowed, FrederikGollob, head of the city’s European Business association, argues that Singapore is getting the upper hand over Hong Kong because of its eagerness to signal the end of bothersome pandemic restrictions, even though progress has slowed.
Among the “many instances” Gollob provided were businesses whose C-suite executives were debating whether to relocate certain operations out of Hong Kong or were waiting for their “office leases” to expire. He refused to identify the companies, citing concerns about their confidentiality.
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