Companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co are stepping up to compensate employees ensnared by Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regime, as businesses in the territory struggle to retain and recruit staff almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.
As most of the rest of the world is opening up — including rival financial hubs such as Singapore, London and New York — Hong Kong is steadfast in its “COVID-zero” approach, which includes mandating a hotel quarantine of up to three weeks for residents and visitors.
A stay at Hong Kong’s quarantine hotel can cost between HK$500 and HK$3,630 (US$64 and US$465) per night for a non-suite room.
JPMorgan has offered to reimburse Hong Kong employees up to US$5,000 to compensate for their quarantine stay, in a plan that would remain in effect until November next year.
All Hong Kong-based staff members who are executive directors and below could claim the amount for a single quarantine stay for personal trips to visit immediate family members, which includes spouses, domestic partners, children, parents and grandparents.
The US bank has 4,000 employees in the territory.
The New York-based Morgan Stanley has offered employees as much as HK$40,000 to cover quarantine costs. The one-time reimbursement would be available to all Hong Kong permanent employees when they return from a personal trip to visit immediate family members and in effect until November next year.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has offered employees in the Asia-Pacific region a one-time subsidy of up to US$5,000 to cover costs from a mandatory quarantine effective Dec. 1, a company memo showed.
A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman confirmed the content of the memo.
The subsidy is in recognition that staff members in the Asia-Pacific region have faced the “additional burden of multiple lockdowns and some of the strictest quarantine measures in the world,” the memo said.
Hong Kong needs to achieve a vaccination rate of at least 80 percent before it would consider reopening its borders to mainland China and the international community thereafter, The Standard reported, citing a top government official.
About 70.2 percent of the territory’s population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while only 17 percent of older people aged 80 or older have been inoculated, the newspaper quoted Hong Kong Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip (聶德權) as saying in a radio interview on Saturday.
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