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Hong Kong’s quarantine exemption to Hollywood star Nicole Kidman triggers public anger

Hollywood star Nicole Kidman

The decision of the Hong Kong authorities to grant Hollywood star Nicole Kidman an exemption from quarantine after she arrived in the city to film an Amazon-funded series has triggered public resentment.

The Chinese financial hub has put in place strict quarantine measures for foreign arrivals which has helped it to keep coronavirus cases at low levels.

Arrivals from high-risk countries have to stay in hotel quarantine for 21 days, while lower-risk countries have seven days hotel quarantine followed by a further seven days of self-monitoring.

Hong Kong's Commerce and Economic Development Bureau confirmed the Australian actress and other film crew had been granted an exemption "to carry out designated professional work".

Kidman flew into the city in a private jet that took off from Sydney on Aug 12, according to the Standard newspaper.

The city's tabloids have splashed Kidman's appearances in Hong Kong across their pages. She was spotted shopping two days after her arrival and later filming in the city's Sai Wan district.

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The 54-year-old actress has been announced as an executive producer on "Expats", a show based on a 2016 book by Janice YK Lee about the luxurious lifestyle of three American women in the city.

Kidman will be staying at a mansion in an upscale neighbourhood near Victoria Peak until October, paying a monthly rent of about HK$650,000 (S$113,842), according to local media reports.

Social media has been saturated with comments by expats and local Hong Kongers criticising Kidman's quarantine exemption.

A popular support group on Facebook for people quarantining in Hong Kong also filled with angry comments about how many local and foreign residents have been unable to see relatives overseas for nearly two years because of the rules.

Local media cited Elizabeth Quat, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, as saying she had "concerns over the quarantine exemption granted by the government to actress Nicole Kidman" and that she had "received quite a number of complaints from Hong Kong residents".

Quat added that she had asked health officials to address a legislature committee on the issue on Friday.

Kidman's exemption has come at a time when Hong Kong has tightened its quarantine rules for several countries.