Investment banks and corporate laws firms are among the businesses warning of an impending talent crunch in Hong Kong as ongoing travel restrictions force expats to give up and leave. According to a Reuters report, Australian lawyer Tania Sibree is one of many foreign professionals heading back home.
“The hotel quarantine made it just so tough for people to travel and that was the big incentive to being in Hong Kong, it was close to home and my parents. But you cannot do that long in hotel quarantine with kids. Everyone had been thinking the restrictions would be lifted, it would get better and it would not go on for so long.”
Despite only reporting around 13,000 Covid-19 infections in a population of 7.4 million, Hong Kong continues to doggedly follow Beijing’s zero-Covid strategy, eschewing any talk of “living with the virus”. It has some of the harshest quarantine requirements in the world, with only Hong Kong residents allowed to return to the territory. Then they must pay for 3 weeks’ mandatory hotel quarantine, whether fully vaccinated or not.
To date, there has been no indication the government will ease these restrictions anytime soon. Equally there has been no sign of Hong Kong being any closer to achieving zero-Covid status. The government has dismissed talk of a talent crunch, insisting the top priority is fighting the pandemic and pledging to invest in talent to avoid Hong Kong losing its status as a global financial hub.
Nevertheless, the expat exodus continues. According to Reuters, one expat who has worked as a financial analyst in Hong Kong for over 5 years says he’s done waiting for the borders to re-open so he can visit his family. He has now given up and is headed home to the US for good.
“Basically, we need to see our families and there is no end in sight to travel restrictions, no roadmap or plan. Eventually you quit waiting and realise moving is the only option.”
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