Hong Kong government has drawn irks from the public after it was revealed that the city’s central bank has arranged care packages that include wines and gourmet food to quell anger from bankers in quarantine, criticized as one of the strictest measures in the world.
In an interview with Hong Kong local newspaper Hong Kong Economic Journal this week, Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Chief Executive Eddie Yue said that the authority had put together a team to deliver “wine and gourmet food” to quarantined finance workers in hopes of making them “less angry with Hong Kong.”
“Hopefully, they will be less angry about Hong Kong’s [strict quarantine measures],” Yue told the newspaper.
It’s not clear what wines are selected for the care packages.
Yue, however, said the wine and gourmet food came “out of their own pockets”, not public fund, in a desperate attempt to grovel to the city’s financial professionals, who have repeatedly complained about Hong Kong’s lengthy quarantine.
This nonetheless still caused public outcry as residents bemoan preferential treatment towards financial elites, following the city’s now revoked quarantine exemption for bankers last year.
The city previously announced that bankers and business leaders would be exempt from the city’s lengthy quarantine. This was however revoked in last November after much criticism.
With hotel costs mounting for quarantine up to USD 400 a night for 21 days, the city’s quarantine exemptions are often called into question. Actress Nicole Kidman was exempted quarantine when she was filming in the city, and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon was also spared 21-day hotel isolation.
But the city’s leaders are caught in a bind to retain financial talents while not losing its status as a financial center with its border still closed from outside world.
Hong Kong follows China’s strict “zero covid” policy and enforces vaccinated arrivals to quarantine in hotels for up to 21 days. But business and financial leaders have criticized that the Asian financial hub’s tough covid rules would render itself less competitive to rivals in Singapore and London.