Living Here Living In Hong Kong

What it’s like in government quarantine

Hong Kong has implemented strict quarantine rules to keep the city safe. For some returning expats, this means 14 days of home quarantine. Which means strictly no leaving the house (or hotel room) for 14 days! For others, the quarantine experience may happen at a government quarantine facility.

So, what happens at these government quarantine centres? What’s the process and what are the facilities like? Jacqui is an expat from Botswana. She moved to Hong Kong in 2013 and has lived here with her Scottish husband and two super-cute baby boys. On 19 March 2020, the Department of Health informed Jacqui that she had come into direct contact with a positive COVID-19 case. Jacqui was told she would be quarantined at the government centre and she was collected from her home the following day at 9pm.

What the government quarantine centre is like

Jacqui was placed in a single room by herself at the Fo Tan facility. She reports that the facility is basic but bright and calm. It also has good Wi-Fi, which is great news! Jacqui has been provided with bedding and basic utensils. She gets three meals a day (Chinese meals), and she recommends others bring snacks if you’re headed to quarantine. There is no stove to cook on, so any food you bring along must be packaged.

Take a look at this video of her room:

What Jacqui took with her

Jacqui was given time to prepare for quarantine. She immediately separated herself from her husband and children while still at home. Then, she packed her bags and belongings and waited to be collected. Jacqui told Expat Living that she packed:

  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Computer and devices (including chargers)
  • Packaged groceries

What she wished she took with her

Now, six days into her quarantine stint, there are a few items she wished she had packed. These include:

  • Tea bags
  • Sugar
  • A teaspoon
  • A cup (in fact, she recommends packing cutlery and crockery for kids if you are going)
  • Her painting materials
  • More things to occupy her mind

In good news, Jacqui shares that “there is a delivery service so you can always have things dropped off.”  This means if you forget something, a friend or family member can always drop it off for you. However, others in quarantine have noted that not all packages are accepted so do your best to pack everything you need.

Jacqui’s tips for getting through government quarantine

  1. It is okay to freak out. Allow yourself that space where you can identify your fears then work to control them.
  2. Allow yourself a sad day. Read about Jacqui’s low day on her quarantine blog.
  3. Accept the situation. Jacqui says, “It is what it is, I will embrace my time here and reconnect internally”.
  4. Do not feel guilty. She says, “If you have COVID-19 or like me came in contact with someone that does. Do not hide it under the carpet. It is a fight together. Social distance without pointing the finger – some people are negligent but others come across it by no fault of their own”.
  5. Get busy. Jacqui has been writing every day and working on her blog.
  6. Pack enough clothes. There is no washing facility; the only way to wash clothes in is the shower.
  7. Bring something that makes you feel good. Jacqui packed her high-heel shoes and a sparkly dress to celebrate her 40th birthday (on Saturday 28 March).

Read more about Jacqui’s experience and personal journey on her blog You can help wish her a happy birthday in the comments section. She has shared her story with many others on the HK Quarantine Support Group on Facebook. These days, Jacqui is a Sai Kung local and she is the salon owner of Aphrodite Hair and Makeup Salon in Sai Kung. Her business is closed while she is in quarantine.

Want to know more about COVID-19 and expats in Hong Kong?  Check out one of these stories:

Returning to Hong Kong and quarantine
Teens at home during COVID-19: a survival guide
Guide to international schools in Hong Kong