Hong Kong has granted Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, an exemption from one of the strictest pandemic quarantines in the world.
Mr Dimon this week became the first Wall Street bank manager to visit the city since the start of the pandemic. He was in town Monday and Tuesday to meet with employees and regulators.
Even as other places relax travel restrictions, Hong Kong has stuck to its long quarantine mandates for most visitors, leaving little room for exceptions. The last public figure to be granted an exemption in Hong Kong was Nicole Kidman, whose visit to film a television series about wealthy expats sparked outcry, including a debate in the Hong Kong legislature.
Mr Dimon’s exemption was “justified to facilitate a short visit” of around 30 hours, a government spokesperson said in an emailed statement, adding that Mr Dimon’s trip was “considered to be being in the interest of Hong Kong‘s economic development “.
JPMorgan declined to comment.
Hong Kong has remained largely closed to the rest of the world and is forcing foreign visitors from “high-risk” countries, including the United States, to self-quarantine in a hotel for 21 days. Other foreign visitors must self-quarantine in a hotel for at least 14 days. People from mainland China are the only visitors who can skip quarantine.
Earlier this year, officials granted exemptions to top bankers and other executives whose work they said was in Hong Kong’s economic interest. Those exemptions were mostly dropped last month when Hong Kong’s top leader said the government must align with mainland China’s goal of completely wiping out the virus.
Hong Kong has made opening its border with mainland China a priority over opening its borders to overseas travel. It has only reported two locally transmitted cases in more than five months.
During his visit, Mr Dimon said Hong Kong’s quarantine rules made it difficult to retain employees in the city, according to Bloomberg News.
His brief comments echoed those of the Asia Securities Industry and Financial Market, a leading lobbying group for financial companies, which publicly urged Hong Kong to relax the rules and warned that the restrictions threatened the status of the city as a hub of international business.