The Government has enacted the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation (Cap. 599C) and the Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation (Cap. 599E) (the “Regulations”) to strengthen the health quarantine arrangements in order to address the increasing threat of COVID-19 to Hong Kong.
Under Cap. 599C, all persons arriving from the Mainland, Macau or Taiwan (or having stayed in the Mainland, Macau or Taiwan) in the past 14 days prior to arrival to Hong Kong will be subject to compulsory quarantine. Cap. 599E contains essentially the same restrictions imposed by Cap. 599C but targets persons arriving from or having stayed in overseas countries and territories.
The effect of the Regulations is that all inbound travellers would be subject to compulsory quarantine for 14 days, apart from certain categories of exempted persons (such as persons necessary for the supply of goods or services required for the normal operation of Hong Kong or the daily needs of the people of Hong Kong).
Under the Regulations, persons arriving in Hong Kong must be quarantined in either: (i) “an assigned place of quarantine” (i.e. a Government quarantine centre); or (ii) a place nominated by the person if it is prudent and appropriate in the circumstances – generally, the quarantined person’s home.
Persons placed under quarantine are not allowed to leave the place of quarantine without permission given by an authorised officer appointed by the Director of Health. Similarly, there are restrictions on entering a place of quarantine. Under the Regulations, a person must not enter an “assigned place of quarantine” (i.e. Government quarantine centres) without permission. Any person who without reasonable excuse breaches these prohibitions commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and imprisonment for six months.
There is, however, no requirement for written permission for entering a place nominated by a person for quarantine (i.e. the quarantined person’s home). Issues may arise if a quarantined person, say, requests a contractor to carry out maintenance or repair works within his or her home during the 14-day quarantine period, or if entry into a quarantined person’s home during the 14-day quarantine period is otherwise required. There are implications and obligations under various legislation including the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57), the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (Cap. 509) and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487).
Companies providing residential property management, cleaning and maintenance services, delivery companies, contractors, and the like which that may entail entry into a person’s home need to be mindful of these potential legal issues. Given the unprecedented situation in Hong Kong and the frequent introduction of new quarantine regulations, companies also need to be kept abreast of the latest developments and their legal implications.