Latest news updates: Hong Kong leader defends Jamie Dimon’s quarantine-free entry

The Hong Kong leader on Tuesday defended granting a waiver to JPMorgan Chase leader and CEO Jamie Dimon, who entered the city without undergoing the strict three-week quarantine, saying the risk was “completely controllable”.

Dimon, the first Wall Street investment banker to visit Chinese territory since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, flew in from the United States and will spend just 32 hours in Hong Kong meeting regulators and 4,000 employees in a virtual “town hall”.

“[Dimon’s] case . . . was based on the interests of [Hong Kong’s] economic development, said Carrie Lam, Hong Kong̵[ads1]7;s CEO, to reporters. “[JPMorgan] is, after all, a large bank with important operations in Hong Kong. ”

She said Dimon’s trip only posed “controllable risks” given that his itinerary was approved “with restrictions”. These curbs included wearing a face mask, keeping distance during meetings and not shaking hands.

Travelers from the United States, along with 24 other high-risk countries, including large parts of Europe, must review the hotel quarantine for 21 days. Actress Nicole Kidman’s quarantine exemption granted in August for making a TV series from Amazon sparked a public outcry over “special treatment”.

Cathay Pacific cargo plane
Approximately 130 Cathay Pacific cargo pilots have been sent to 21-day quarantine after three of their colleagues tested positive for coronavirus © Bloomberg

While the Hong Kong government had allowed a small number of business leaders to skip mandatory quarantine based on economic development concerns, officials had scrapped most of last week’s exceptions in an attempt to meet Beijing’s expectations to facilitate the reopening of mainland China’s borders.

Hong Kong has granted 93 quarantine exemptions for senior business executives out of 399 applications received as of Nov. 11, according to government figures released to the Financial Times.

A number of Dimon’s colleagues at major international banks have been quarantined in the city, including HSBC chairman Mark Tucker and CEO Noel Quinn. Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters was given a limited exemption from quarantine this summer which meant he was allowed to go out to some business meetings.

Others have avoided coming to the city completely. David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, will this week arrive in Singapore – which has ended the quarantine requirements for travelers from the US – in his first trip to Asia since the start of the crisis.

Lam, the city manager, also said on Tuesday that around 130 Cathay Pacific cargo pilots had been sent to 21-day quarantine after three of their colleagues staying at the same hotel in Frankfurt tested positive for coronavirus.

She acknowledged that the move could “greatly affect” the city’s cargo logistics. The airline has, after discussions with officials, introduced stricter quarantine measures for all flight crews to isolate themselves for three days and avoid gatherings on arrival.

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