Hong Kong authorities finally relax COVID-19 restrictions for travellers, which also means the city can now take on more touring artists.
Starting from this Wednesday, 14 December, travellers entering Hong Kong no longer need to adhere to the “0 + 3” policy which prevented people from access to restaurants, bars and clubs, or any place of business that required the removal of a mask, for the first three days. Outside of Mainland China, Hong Kong has remained the only city in the world to enforce strict COVID-19 rules and regulations for a stretch of three years.
Although wearing a protective mask is still required in public, the domestic COVID-19 QR-based tracking app, LeaveHomeSafe, will no longer show an “amber code” for arriving passengers; a “blue code” permits entry to venues, “amber code” and “red code” do not. Both the local public and visitors will still be required to use the app to scan their vaccination record to enter any premises.
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Up until now, clubs and promoters have hesitated to book international and regional DJs as the current regulations prevent a visitor, business or tourist, from entering any establishment for the first three days — which in turn means added hotel and hospitality expenses. However, the local clubbing scene has evolved significantly over the last three years, mainly due to having to adapt to strict regulations on entry and vaccination requirements, timings, capacity and the heavy presence of police in bar and club-clad areas of the city.
Hong Kong's flagship festival Clockenflap, held annually against the city's majestic skyline as its backdrop announced it's return in March 2023, with Arctic Monkeys, Phoenix and multi-instrumentalist French Kiwi Juice aka FKJ headlining the three-day event.
Mixmag Asia reached out to JayMe, founder of warehouse venue Acadana who are responsible for bringing the likes of Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy, Paramida, Telephones, Marcel Vogel and Lemmy Ashton to Hong Kong. He says, “It’s never too late. Any relaxation is good for the clubbing community. On the other hand I have noticed the clubbing community has somewhat “adapted” to all the restrictions over the past three years, moving into earlier and shorter hours, which has its own merits. I hope people will keep this new way of partying while going back to all-nighters and all-dayers!”
Another Hong Kong promoter and DJ, Florian Melinette, founder of FuFu Creative, Pitch Festival and co-founder of Shi Fu Miz, says, “I’m glad it’s now going to be easier to bring international artists to the city, and things are inching back to normal, step by step. But even though the relaxation of rules is welcomed, it’s still not what it used to be, or like the rest of the world.”
Across the border in Mainland China, where over 1,000 clubs and bars have closed due to the country’s “zero-Covid” policy, some venues like underground institution Zhao Dai, have started to operate again; other clubs including TAG. in Chengdu, and Oil Club in Shenzhen have also reopened, whilst Shanghai favourite, Elevator, remains shut since their forced closure.
The big question still remains about when China will fully open its border to Hong Kong and to the rest of the world.