Hong Kong — 54-year-old actress Nicole Kidman got embroiled in controversy when she travelled to Hong Kong from Sydney using a private jet on Aug 12 without having to undergo quarantine like everyone else.
During the time of her arrival, non-residents going to Hong Kong from Sydney were required to serve a mandatory seven-day quarantine in a designated hotel if they were vaccinated and had tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 72 hours. Those who are not vaccinated had to quarantine for two weeks.
Kidman, who was in the region to film an upcoming Amazon Prime series called Expats was seen shopping in the Central area just two days after she arrived.
The Oscar winner was reportedly living in a luxury residence on Victoria Peak that charges a monthly rent of HK$650,000 (SGD113,000) instead of a dedicated quarantine facility.
Netizens were upset, accusing the star of taking advantage of special privileges and concerned that she might spark another outbreak.
Nevertheless, the backlash did not get in the way of Kidman’s work or good mood. Crew members were seen cordoning off a section of Fa Yuen Street for filming on Monday afternoon (Aug 23).
It was reported by the media that this caused dissatisfaction among the street vendors in the area. They claimed that their business was badly affected as overcrowding caused the roads around their stalls to be blocked.
A street vendor got into an argument with a crew member who responded by saying that the street was not fully closed off and that people were still able to access it through the designated entry and exit points. The angry street vendor was said to threaten to call the police but did not do anything in the end.
At about 8 pm, a smiling Kidman arrived at the set. The star took off her mask to interact with the extras when the cameras were rolling. Once the shot was completed, she immediately put it back on. Kidman was given an air-conditioned white tent to rest in between takes. The crew rented a crane to shoot scenes of the street from as high as six storeys up.
Onlookers were curious about the setup in the middle of the city. Crew members stopped them as soon as they take out their phones to take a photo or video. Upon completing work, Kidman was swiftly escorted off the premises by a bodyguard.
When the news of Kidman being exempt from quarantine started causing outrage, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau stated that she was granted this permission “for the purpose of performing designated professional work” that was “conducive to maintaining the necessary operation and development” of Hongkong’s economy.
She was still required to be vaccinated, take regular COVID-19 tests, avoid taking public transport, and submit an itinerary detailing her work activities. /TISG