Jamie Dimon is the latest big name in business to skip one of the world’s longest quarantines.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday that the JPMorgan (JPM) CEO had been granted a government exemption from self-isolation measures, which typically require travelers to stay in hotels at their own expense for up to three weeks.
Asked about the matter at a press conference, Lam said that Dimon had received special permission in the interest of “Hong Kong’s economy.”
“After all, [JPMorgan] is a really big bank and it has vital business in Hong Kong,” she said. “The stay is only going to be for a little bit over a day.”
Hong Kong, one of the world’s leading financial hubs, is the base for JPMorgan’s Asia Pacific headquarters.
According to a source familiar with the visit, Dimon was in Hong Kong for less than 36 hours to meet the bank’s regional chief and thank its local staff of about 4,000 for their work throughout the pandemic. JPMorgan confirmed Dimon was in Hong Kong but declined to comment further.
Dimon’s visit comes amid growing controversy over how some executives and celebrities have been allowed to enter the city without facing the arduous quarantine rules that apply to most visitors and residents.
In recent months, the city’s government has faced strong criticism for granting such exemptions, including one over the summer for actress Nicole Kidman. The Oscar winner entered the city in August to film a series for Amazon.
Officials have also received pushback from Hong Kong residents for allowing certain top finance executives to apply for dispensations. Standard Chartered (SCBFF) CEO Bill Winters was among those granted an exception, according to the FT. The bank did not respond to a request for comment.
Critics have argued that the policy is elitist, while the government has said it is to “maintain Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center.”
Earlier this year, however, HSBC (HSBC) Chairman Mark Tucker spent three weeks in isolation in the city, while CEO Noel Quinn has also gone through hotel quarantine, according to a person familiar with the matter. The bank declined to comment.
On Tuesday, Lam defended the city’s decision to accommodate Dimon, calling his entrance to Hong Kong “a manageable risk.”
“There are restrictions that come with his stay of course,” she added, without elaborating further. “It is within our monitoring.”
— Julia Horowitz contributed to this report.