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VIRUS OUTBREAK

Hong Kong charges cash for quarantine to stop virus freeloaders

A daily levy of HK$200 will be imposed for those opting for government's temporary housing

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Hong Kong is the most expensive city in the world in which to rent a mid-range two-bedroom apartment per month, according to Deustche Bank's 2019 "Mapping the World's Prices" report.

Hong Kong

AS it continues to battle the global coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong, the world's most expensive property market, is going to start charging people quarantined in government housing after it found some were abusing the system.

From Tuesday, Hong Kong - which has some of the highest rents in the world - will charge a daily fee of HK$200 (S$37) if people returning to the city opt for the government's temporary housing, where they are also given meals.

The financial hub previously mandated that people coming back from mainland China self-quarantine for 14 days, a measure that has since been extended to incoming visitors from the United States as well as Europe.

Hong Kong's government announced the new arrangement on Monday after it discovered that people were taking advantage of the system, and also to ensure access for those who cannot afford alternative quarantine arrangements at home or in a hotel.

Authorities are "aware of suspected cases of people abusing the temporary accommodation", the government said in a statement.

"For example, some Hong Kong residents frequently travelled between the mainland and Hong Kong after the compulsory quarantine arrangement took effect on Feb 8, and stayed in temporary accommodation repeatedly," it noted.

The government statement went to add: "Some Hong Kong residents, despite having local residences, still insisted staying in temporary accommodation."

Hong Kong is the most expensive city in the world in which to rent a mid-range two-bedroom apartment per month, according to Deustche Bank's 2019 "Mapping the World's Prices" report.

That type of home would cost US$3,685 in Hong Kong, compared to US$2,909 in New York City. BLOOMBERG