Firms are paying up to deal with Hong Kong's Covid-19 quarantine rules

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – Companies including JPMorgan Chase are stepping up to compensate employees ensnared by Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regime as businesses in the city 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 as many as three weeks for residents returning to the city and visitors.

A recent survey found almost half of major international banks and asset managers are contemplating moving employees or functions out of the city.

A stay at Hong Kong’s designated quarantine hotel can cost between HK$500 (S$90) to HK$3,630 per night for a non-suite room.

JPMorgan

The United States bank offered to reimburse Hong Kong employees up to US$5,000 (S$685) to compensate for their quarantine stay, in a plan that will be in effect until November next year. All Hong Kong-based employees who are executive directors and below may 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. JPMorgan has 4,000 employees in city.

Morgan Stanley

The New York-based investment bank offered employees as much as HK$40,000 to cover quarantine costs. The one-time reimbursement will 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

Goldman Sachs staff in the Asia-Pacific will be able to claim a one-time subsidy of up to US$5,000 to cover costs from a mandatory quarantine stay effective from Wednesday, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg. A Hong Kong-based spokesman confirmed the content of the memo. The subsidy is in recognition that staff 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.

Black Sheep Restaurants

The Hong-Kong based restaurant group will be spending at least US$650,000 to allow more than 250 staff to fly home and see their families, according to Mr Christopher Mark, co-founder of the group. The company will pay for flights, hotels and Covid-19 tests for employees and a daily dinner from one of its 32 restaurants. In return, staff taking advantage of the offer are asked to commit to working in the group for at least one year when they return.

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