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Keeping Calm and Carrying on Through Mandatory Quarantine in Hong Kong

Posted on 26/11/2020 by Dawn Alba

Two years ago, my three kids, who were all born and raised here in Hong Kong, asked if they could move home to the Philippines.  They were swayed by a couple of their HK friends who made the move that year and were telling my kids how happily settled they were at their new schools.  What started as a random out-of-the-blue question became so persistent that early last year my husband and I finally made the difficult decision to move them home to continue their studies with my husband relocating with them. 

We both agreed that I stay in Hong Kong for a few years, as I wasn’t prepared to leave my role here at Charlotte Frank.  With Manila just over an hour’s flight away, it was feasible for me to fly and visit them at least once a month and take longer holidays during special occasions.  

My family flew home right after the school year ended in July 2019, and as soon as they left, the HK protests escalated to such great lengths, we actually breathed a sigh of relief thinking that their move couldn’t have come at a better time.  I managed to fly home one weekend a month and then spent a longer time with them during Christmas holidays and also Chinese New Year.  Then after that, COVID-19 happened.

Flying to visit family then became such a struggle as travel was restricted at the peak of the pandemic due to health and safety protocols in both countries.  I had to endure more than 5 months of being away from my family and was only able to fly back in July when quarantine procedures in Manila were lifted – not to mention my several attempts of flight booking, flight cancellations, rerouting to Cebu instead of Manila and hotel quarantine for 2 nights there.

Working remotely then became the new normal.  I took the opportunity to work as much as I could while I was back home and in the company of my husband and kids.   I felt I was able to maintain, even exceed, my usual high levels of productivity.  I was in a happy environment and thankful for Charlotte Frank’s support during those few weeks I had to work remotely.    

I flew back to HK with no escaping the 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine of inbound travellers from high-risk countries.  Two weeks of just staying put in a four-cornered room, waiting alone edgily for the quarantine window-period to end.  What better to do than to keep myself busy with work!  I seized the opportunity and made as many phone calls as I could, arranged Zoom meetings, sent emails and met candidates through VC.  As I did when working remotely I arranged candidate interviews with clients, sending confirmation, prepping candidates, and negotiating offers, all while stuck in a hotel room for a fortnight!  I still got to enjoy my weeknights and weekends Facetiming with family, watching some shows on Netflix - sometimes with a glass of wine   

Being in hotel quarantine wasn’t too bad after all especially when you have work to keep you occupied.  I’m willing to embrace this new travelling norm and do what it takes as long as I can spend some quality time with family.  It is a pinch to our wallets, I have to admit, but with the lockdown and leisure limitations these days, it’s worth it. 

I have already come to terms with this set-up and I hope and pray that this pandemic will be over soon.  I’m fortunate that our company and management team have been very supportive of giving us this flexibility and the ability to work from home and remotely.  This goes without saying, but we all have to pay that trust back by embracing our situations and managing our time and work effectively and efficiently. 

How about you? Have you accepted and embraced the new norm?

Take care and stay safe!

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