Hong Kong Charges Cash for Quarantine to Stop Virus Freeloaders

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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.

Starting March 17, Hong Kong — which has some of the highest rents in the world — will charge a daily fee of HK$200 ($26) 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 U.S. and Europe.

Hong Kong’s government announced the new arrangement Monday after it discovered people were taking advantage of the system, and to ensure access for those who can’t 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 traveled between the Mainland and Hong Kong after the compulsory quarantine arrangement took effect on February 8, and stayed in temporary accommodation repeatedly,” it said. “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 AG’s 2019 “Mapping the World’s Prices” report. That type of home would cost $3,685 in Hong Kong, compared to $2,909 in New York City.

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