HONG KONG - Hong Kong will cut its hotel quarantine for international arrivals from one week to three days from Friday, leader John Lee announced, in an easing of Covid restrictions that have severely curbed travel.

Once a global logistics and transportation hub, Hong Kong has been largely cut off from the world for more than two years due to its adherence to China’s strict zero-Covid policy.

Under some of the world’s tightest pandemic rules, Hong Kong had required overseas arrivals to undergo seven days of quarantine and repeated testing while confined to a room in a designated hotel, a restriction that residents and the business community complained has deterred them from travelling.

Lee, Hong Kong’s ex-security chief turned city leader, announced Monday that the quarantine period for arrivals would be shortened to three days in a hotel plus four days of health monitoring at home or in a hotel of their choice.

“We hope to maintain livelihood activities and Hong Kong’s competitiveness, and to give the society the best development momentum and economic vitality,” Lee said.

He denied the easing signalled any departure from China’s policy.

“Staying in touch with the outside world and working to resume quarantine-free travel with the mainland are no contradiction,” he said.

Alongside the new quarantine arrangements, Hong Kong will implement a health code system similar to mainland China’s on a government-developed tracking app.