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Global Times

Mainland and Macao residents eligible for quarantine-free travel to HK as coronavirus-cut communication resumes

Global Times

By Global Times Published: Sep 15, 2021 12:43 PM

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government further expanded programs to facilitate mainland residents to travel to Hong Kong, a move welcomed by both Hongkongers and residents in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, who also called for travel restrictions to ease further to stimulate Hong Kong economy.

Starting from Wednesday, non-Hong Kong residents from South China's Guangdong and Macao who meet certain conditions can now make quarantine-free travel back to Hong Kong under a program launched by the HKSAR government named "Come2hk."

For the time being, the program allows up to 2,000 individuals each day, with 1,000 each for the Shenzhen Bay Port and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port.The program does not apply to people from mainland regions identified as medium or high-risk, and the travelers must also undergo regular virus testing.

The program will be trialed first in Guangdong and then be extended to Shanghai, Hong Kong officials disclosed earlier.

This is another move made by Hong Kong officials to facilitate personnel flow between Hong Kong and mainland, which was primarily cut off as a result of the coronavirus. Last November, Hong Kong had launched a similar travel program named "Return2hk" which scraps quarantine requirements for Hongkongers returning from mainland or Macao.

Hongkongers and residents in the Greater Bay Area interviewed by the Global Times all expressed support for the programs, saying that they will help Hong Kong-mainland economic interaction return to normal. But they stressed that the current policies are still not "convenient" enough, as Hongkongers who travel to mainland still must undergo 14 days quarantine and seven days health-monitoring in community.

"I think one-sided lift of restrictions on travel from mainland/Macao to Hong Kong will only exert limited influence on stimulating regional personnel flow," Lin Jiang, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Thomas Yeung, vice dean of the Futian School of Finance and a Hong Kong economist, said that the "Come2hk" and "Return2hk" programs are "good news" to help HK-mainland personnel communication, as there are about 30,000-40,000 Hongkongers who have potential demands to travel to mainland on average daily for purposes including visiting relatives, living and business, but most of them are hindered by the coronavirus-triggered travel restrictions.

According to him, HK businesses also have urgent demands for mainland people to travel to Hong Kong, so as to activate local markets which are in a somewhat stagnant state now.

"Many Hong Kong markets have lowered their rent several times because of sluggish consumption. Local property agents also see income slump for losing mainland customers, not to mention that some HK schools nearly have no student source if they don't enroll mainland students," Yeung said.

He also suggested that the Come2hk program should expand quota from 2,000 daily to 4,000, while the quarantine time should also gradually reduce to seven days for Hongkongers who travel to mainland.

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