It’s been nearly two years since Norris Fong has seen his family back in his native Singapore. Now, he’s had enough.
The 33-year-old fashion buyer is soon leaving Hong Kong to return to his home country, citing frustration over the city’s coronavirus restrictions and lack of a clear reopening plan.
“Singapore definitely has a better game plan,” said Fong, who has lived in Hong Kong for four years.
Fong isn’t alone. Hong Kong and Singapore have long vied to be Asia’s premier global business center, but as the Chinese city’s international borders remain virtually closed, some businesses and expats are starting to lose patience — and turning to the Southeast Asian hub.
Some companies were already weighing the merits of Singapore over Hong Kong as a centralized Asian business hub, especially as Beijing began tightening its grip over the former British territory. But as the pandemic nears the two-year mark, their strategies for containing the virus have taken center stage.
Like many Asian countries, Hong Kong has embraced a “zero Covid” strategy, placing emphasis on social distancing, limiting travel and shutting most non-residents out. Most travelers arriving in the city have to contend with one of the world’s longest quarantines, paying to isolate in a hotel room for up to three weeks.
Singapore initially adopted a similarly arduous regime. But in recent months, the government has begun to switch to a “living with Covid” playbook, announcing plans to relax some rules and restart international travel with certain countries, such as Germany. The city-state also more commonly allows people to quarantine at home for up to 14 days.