Companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co are stepping up to compensate employees ensnared by Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regime, as businesses in the territory 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 up to three weeks for residents and visitors.
A stay at Hong Kong’s quarantine hotel can cost between HK$500 and HK$3,630 (US$64 and US$465) per night for a non-suite room.
JPMorgan has offered to reimburse Hong Kong employees up to US$5,000 to compensate for their quarantine stay, in a plan that would remain in effect until November next year.
All Hong Kong-based staff members who are executive directors and below could 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.
The US bank has 4,000 employees in the territory.
The New York-based Morgan Stanley has offered employees as much as HK$40,000 to cover quarantine costs. The one-time reimbursement would 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 Group Inc has offered employees in the Asia-Pacific region a one-time subsidy of up to US$5,000 to cover costs from a mandatory quarantine effective Dec. 1, a company memo showed.
A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman confirmed the content of the memo.
The subsidy is in recognition that staff members 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.
Hong Kong needs to achieve a vaccination rate of at least 80 percent before it would consider reopening its borders to mainland China and the international community thereafter, The Standard reported, citing a top government official.
About 70.2 percent of the territory’s population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while only 17 percent of older people aged 80 or older have been inoculated, the newspaper quoted Hong Kong Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip (聶德權) as saying in a radio interview on Saturday.
DISMAL OUTLOOK: A Citigroup analyst predicted firms face ‘the worst semiconductor downturn in at least a decade,’ due to inventory build and the potential of a recession Semiconductor stocks tumbled after Micron Technology Inc became the latest chipmaker to warn about slowing demand, triggering concern that the industry is heading into a painful downturn. In the US on Tuesday, the Philadelphia semiconductor index sank 4.6 percent, with all 30 members in the red, its biggest drop in about two months. In Asia, chip stocks from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) to Samsung Electronics Co, SK Hynix Inc and Tokyo Electron Ltd slumped. Investors are growing increasingly skittish as the notoriously cyclical industry is hurtling toward a prolonged slump after years of widespread shortages that led to heavy
With a tantalizing array of satay chicken, wok-fried mud crab and chilled tiger prawns, the dinner buffet at Singapore’s Grand Hyatt hotel typically sets diners back about US$70. Those on a tighter budget and with an eye on sustainability can fill a box for one-tenth of that price. Across Asia, tech start-ups are taking food otherwise destined for landfill and providing discounted meals through mobile phone apps. About one-third of food is lost or wasted every year globally, and the mountains of waste are estimated to cause 8 to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, the UN says.
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Yageo Corp (國巨) yesterday said that its revenue would drop by a low single-digit percentage this quarter from a historical high last quarter, as customers and distributors are holding back demand to concentrate on inventory digestion due to flagging smartphone and notebook computer demand. The world’s biggest supplier of passive components expects to take three to six months to reduce its inventory of commoditized passive components to a normal level of 100 to 110 days, from 130 days currently. Yageo would reduce its factory utilization rate for standard passive components to about 60 percent this quarter, from about 70 percent last quarter,