The Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong (Amendment) (No.2) Regulation 2020 commenced on 29 April 2020, amending the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation (Cap. 599C) (amended Regulation). The expiry date of the amended Regulation has been extended to 30 September 2021. In accordance with section 4(1)(b) in the amended Regulation, the Chief Secretary for Administration may designate any person or category of persons for exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement, if he is satisfied that the person’s or persons’ travelling is necessary for purposes of the provision of professional services in the interest of Hong Kong's economic development.
In accordance with the above-mentioned provision, the Chief Secretary for Administration has exempted the following category of persons from the compulsory quarantine arrangement with effect from 19 May 2020 –
(a) An arbitrator, mediator or qualified legal practitioner acting as a counsel for a party in arbitration or mediation proceedings administered by a relevant body listed at the Appendix or in litigation proceedings in court (“Eligible Proceedings”), who returns to Hong Kong from the Mainland, Macao or Taiwan after provision of necessary professional services in the aforesaid proceedings there; or
(b) An arbitrator, mediator or qualified legal practitioner acting as a counsel for a party in Eligible Proceedings, who travels from the Mainland, Macao or Taiwan to Hong Kong to provide necessary professional services in the aforesaid proceedings in Hong Kong.
With effect from 15 June 2020, the Chief Secretary for Administration has also exempted the following category of persons from compulsory quarantine arrangement –
(a) A qualified legal practitioner acting for a party in an important and large-scale commercial transaction, being transactions for listing on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong or notifiable transactions of listed companies under the applicable listing rules of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, who either (i) travels from the Mainland, Macao or Taiwan to Hong Kong to provide necessary legal services that require on-site physical presence in relation to the aforesaid transaction or (ii) returns to Hong Kong from the Mainland, Macao or Taiwan after provision of necessary legal services that require on-site physical presence in relation to the aforesaid transaction.
Generally, only a limited number of applicants involved in the same transaction would be approved. Applicants who are involved in the same transaction are advised to make applications at the same time in order to facilitate consideration and processing.
All applicants are advised to submit applications at least two weeks in advance of the travel, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Applicants who intend to travel to the Mainland to provide the above services shall make their applications before leaving Hong Kong for provision of the said services in the Mainland.
Validity Period of Exemption
For an arbitrator, mediator or qualified legal practitioner acting as a counsel for a party in Eligible Proceedings: From 19 May 2020 to the expiry of section 4(1)(b) of the Regulation or as may be specified in the authorization letter (whichever is the shorter).
For a qualified legal practitioner acting for a party in an Eligible Transaction: From 15 June 2020 to the expiry of section 4(1)(b) of the Regulation or as may be specified in the authorization letter (whichever is the shorter).
The Department of Justice (DoJ) will process the applications, including consulting the relevant legal processional bodies and/or the relevant arbitration/mediation bodies as well as the relevant government bureaux/departments where necessary. The DoJ will issue authorisation letters to the exempted persons, setting out the details and conditions of exemption.
Information and Supporting Documents to be Submitted by Applicants
(a) Completed application form setting out the personal particulars and the justifications for travelling to Hong Kong, Macao, Mainland or Taiwan, with supporting documents;
(b) Copy of Hong Kong Identity Card or Passport or other applicable travel document;
(c) Copy of the professional qualification certificate;
(d) Copy of the appointment document in the arbitration, mediation or litigation proceedings;
(e) Copy of letter from the company in the transaction represented by the applicant, confirming the necessity of the legal services requiring onsite physical presence;
(f) Each applicant must declare that he/she is travelling to Hong Kong, Macao, Mainland or Taiwan to provide necessary professional legal or dispute resolution services in Eligible Proceedings, or necessary legal services requiring physical presence in relation to an Eligible Transaction, as the case may be;
(g) Each applicant must declare that he/she will only travel to and stay in the city where the necessary professional services will be rendered; and
(h) Each applicant must take every precautionary measure to ensure personal hygiene and avoid unnecessary social contact whilst in that city.
Conditions for Exemption
After arriving or returning to Hong Kong, each exempted person will be subject to medical surveillance arranged by the Department of Health (DH) during his/her stay in Hong Kong, and will be required to wear masks and check body temperature daily, as well as report to the DH on any discomfort. The Chief Secretary, in approving an application, may impose condition(s) as deemed appropriate in each case.
For witnesses (including experts) or other persons involved in Eligible Proceedings, separate applications may be made to the DoJ, which will be considered on a case by case basis under the relevant statutory exemption provisions.
For the latest “Points to Note for Quarantine for Inbound Travellers”, please visit https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/inbound-travel.html.