Hong Kong’s pandemic-induced “isolated status” has pushed half of European businesses in the financial hub to consider packing up their bags, according to a new report.
With firms unable to keep hold of staff, the city’s “ongoing ‘Zero-Covid’ strategy has come at a very high cost for Hong Kong’s business community,” the European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong has said.
A quarter of European businesses are mulling a full relocation, while 24 per cent are considering a partial relocation. Just 17 per cent of firms said they are not thinking of moving at all.
A third of larger companies, with more than 500 employees, have reported usually high turnover rates, with expat employees struggling under touch restrictions which could see you fined for running without a mask and unable to see family overseas.
The former British colony, which has adopted mainland China’s controversial ‘Zero-Covid’ stance, had been largely free of the virus for nearly two years, until late last year.
The “distressing landscape” in the city, according to the Chamber, comes as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam confirmed her fears that financial institutions in the city have grown tired of its tough measures.
“The time has come” to review the measures, which prompted the US to warn against travelling to the city for fear of child separations earlier this month, Lam told a daily press conference last week.
“Not because the number of cases has come down… but I have a very strong feeling that people’s tolerance are fading,” Lam added. “Some of our financial institutions are losing patience about this sort of isolated status of Hong Kong.”
A similar report by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong at the beginning of the year also reported that nearly 45 per cent of Hong Kong expats say they are looking to leave the city over its travel restrictions.
Some 26 per cent of businesses in the global financial hub were also thinking of relocating – with the lights of Singapore just a stones throw away. The fellow city-state is also considered Hong Kong’s biggest business rival by around 80 per cent of those polled.
Lam has this week launched her charm offensive, with the promise of relaxing quarantine restrictions for vaccinated travellers from nine countries, including the UK and the US – as Singapore eases some of its own travel restrictions.
While case numbers remain high for the city of 7.4m – they are thought to have peaked.