Hong Kong’s commerce minister defended today his decision to exempt Hollywood star Nicole Kidman and other crew members from serving mandatory Covid quarantine.
Local media reported that the Oscar-winning actress was shooting in a crowded street market in Kowloon for the new Amazon Prime Video series Expats, highlighting the lives of wealthy and glamorous ex-pats.
Kidman’s arrival has sparked widespread anger across the city after she was spotted shopping in the city’s centre two days after touching down.
The Australian actress flew from Sydney on 12 August, which she was supposed to take at least seven days of quarantine in a designated hotel once arriving in Hong Kong.
But she and four crew members were granted permission to skip the Covid quarantine, which strictly applied to other Hong Kong citizens, including returning Olympic athletes from Tokyo.
Hong Kong’s secretary of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, told Bloomberg today Kidman’s trip to a boutique in the city could have been a part of “costume fitting.”
“If that fits in with the pre-notified itinerary, there is no reason that we should not disallow them,” said Yau, adding, “we are making a small exemption of a handful of people who come in to do the production.”
“Our job is to make sure we have good connections with the wider world, provided that such exemptions are being made in good faith and also with sufficient safeguards,” Yau defended his decision.
The government said in a statement last Thursday that the exemption was “for the purpose of performing designated professional work, taking into account that it is conducive to maintaining the necessary operation and development of Hong Kong’s economy.”
Hong Kong is imposing some of the strictest quarantine rules in the world. The authorities required arrivals from high-risk countries, including the UK, Ireland, the US and France, to undergo a 21-day quarantine in a designated hotel and self-monitoring for another 7 days.