Nicole Kidman has been allowed to skip tough quarantine rules in Hong Kong, government officials have seemingly confirmed, sparking anger among locals braced for even tougher restrictions in the coming hours.
The 54-year-old Hollywood star arrived in Hong Kong to film a new TV series and was seen in the city this week.
Following reports that the Australian did not have to isolate upon arrival, a government statement said it had granted an exemption for an individual to perform "designated professional work".
The statement, which did not name Kidman, said: "The case in discussion has been granted permission to travel to Hong Kong with a quarantine exemption for the purpose of performing designated professional work, taking into account that it is conducive to maintaining the necessary operation and development of Hong Kong's economy."
It said that people granted such exemptions must comply with disease prevention measures to minimise COVID transmission risks and public contact, but it contrasts sharply with entry rules for residents and has sparked criticism online in the special administrative region of China.
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Hong Kong is set to reclassify Australia from "low" to "medium" risk from midnight tonight, which will require all arrivals from there to quarantine for 14 days – including vaccinated travellers.
Without the exemption, Kidman would still have had to do seven days of isolation in a mandated hotel.
The Moulin Rouge star is in Hong Kong to film Amazon Prime Video's upcoming Expats.
Her quarantine exemption comes amid wider tightened entry restrictions for Hong Kong, with authorities requiring arrivals from high-risk countries such as the US to spend 21 days in quarantine.
The measures have sparked chaos for travellers who are desperately trying to rebook hotel quarantine and flights with limited supply available.