As we approach the six-month mark since compulsory quarantine was introduced for arrivals into Hong Kong, it’s inevitable that some Hong Kong residents will need to travel abroad before the year is up. Whilst the prospect of two weeks confined to your apartment or a hotel room may seem impossible, for others, it’s a small price to pay to see loved ones living overseas.
I fall into the latter category. I made the difficult decision that the benefits in my situation outweighed the risks, and booked a round-trip ticket, fully aware that I’d be committing myself to a 14-day home quarantine in Hong Kong. Currently at the halfway point, here’s what I’ve picked up so far…
Before you leave Hong Kong
Unless you’re from a high-risk country, you’ll most likely be able to quarantine at home. Start thinking about what you’ll fill your time with and plan ahead! Order books and puzzles, fill your freezer and make a list of round the house projects you’d like to get done.
I cannot recommend enough the Hong Kong Quarantine Support Group on Facebook. Having amassed over 16,000 members in just a few months, the group was created by Fariq Saddiqi and Kunj Ghandhi, two Hongkongers who saw a need to support those returning to Hong Kong.
“It’s become a place to ensure that those who need the help are getting it, whether mental, physical or emotional,” says Saddiqi. “There is very little chance that any questions you have about the arrival and quarantine process haven’t been answered in this group.”
I can honestly say without this group, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to expect and it made the entire process far less daunting than it could have been.
The airport experience
At the time of writing, all arrivals were being tested in the departure gate area of Terminal 2 instead of Asia World Expo. To make your return as smooth as possible, here are a few tips to bear in mind when landing back at HKIA.
If you’re arriving before noon, bring plenty of snacks and supplies. Pre-midday arrivals are required to wait at the airport for their test results, which can take up to 12 hours. Families should check with their airline to see if they may carry fold-up tents in their hand luggage, as they come in handy when travelling with children.
If you’re an afternoon arrival, you’ll be transferred to a hotel for a one-night stay while you wait for your results. Meals are provided, but if you have any food intolerances or restrictions, plan ahead and pack some non-perishable food into your luggage.
Download the Stay Home, Stay Safe app and fill out a health declaration form pre-flight, which expedites the entire process upon landing.
Breathe and be patient. The experience itself is super smooth but airport staff are working long hours every day, so it goes a long way to be kind and smile along the way.
How I prepared
Try to see two uninterrupted weeks at home as a positive rather than a negative: more at-home yoga classes, kitchen cupboard clearouts, morning meditations with no time cap. I set a target to reach 10,000 steps a day, and thanks to YouTube dance cardio workouts and marching on the spot while I binge-watched “Selling Sunset” on Netflix, this was an epic success a few days in!
Beth Wright, an accountability coach and fitness & nutrition expert, advised me to plan my day religiously. “Give yourself structure as much as you can,” says Wright. “Get up and go to bed at the same time each day, take regular breaks, and build in some mini-workouts.” She also proposed the ambitious goal of completing 500 burpees during my second week; at the time of writing, I am sixty down…so what’s another 440?
Food-wise, there are loads of delivery options available, including ParknShop, M&S Food, Eat The Kiwi, Feather & Bone and Pandamart. It’s worth noting that delivery slots can get snapped up fast – don’t assume you can order for next-day delivery. Again, plan ahead. Mostly I’ve opted for having things dropped off by the most wonderful friends who have gone out of their way to pick things up AND deliver treat-filled care packages (pictured at left) including homemade cheesecake!
I’ve yet to experience how the second half of my home quarantine in Hong Kong will unfold, but it’s definitely going faster than I’d anticipated. I doubt I’ll finish even half of my to-do list – rearranging the living room is a fairly lofty task even with time to spare – but I’d rather have an endless list of tasks than feel like I’m clock-watching day in and day out. Ultimately, I’m staying grateful that I’m able to be home in my own apartment with the wonders of technology and the support of caring friends.
How to stay positive in home quarantine
Move: If workouts really aren’t your thing, how about setting a timer at different intervals throughout the day to do some squats, burpees, high knees, stretches – anything! Moving will help to keep the blood flowing and ensure your cells and organs are getting what they need, which is essential at this time!
Dance: This counts as movement but it deserves a standalone mention. Turn up the volume on your favourite song and for a few minutes, just dance like no one is watching. Because, seriously, no one is watching.
Plan: We’ve said it before. It’s a cliche but if you fail to prepare then you prepare to fail. Sitting around all day with Netflix on repeat, whilst definitely recommended for parts of the quarantine period, will make the time drag by. Map out what the next few days will look like, with a to-do list to check off.
Cook: There are some great meal delivery options in Hong Kong, but this is the time to really brush up on cooking. Not only that, cooking takes a lot more time than ordering and eating, so it really helps to break up the days.
Admin: What better way to pass a weekend than by chucking the entire contents of your wardrobe onto the floor and reorganising it to a Marie Kondo level?