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Global Times

HK in discussion with mainland to gradually resume cross-border travel: CE John Lee

Global Times

By Global Times Published: Oct 20, 2022 12:20 AM

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government is making every effort to discuss arrangements with the central government for gradual resumption of cross-border travel without increasing the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in the mainland, said the SAR's Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Wednesday.

In reading out his first policy address as chief executive on Wednesday, Lee responded to the much-publicized issue of the resumption of travel between Hong Kong and the mainland, and presented some of the current preparations. He stressed that the connection between Hong Kong and the mainland is as important as that with foreign countries.

"We are discussing the resumption of cross-border travel with the mainland in a gradual and orderly manner," Lee said. "The first of these goals is to do 'pre-quarantine' in Hong Kong."

"Pre-quarantine" means that travelers wishing to travel from Hong Kong to the mainland will be placed in closed-loop management in Hong Kong ahead of their travel, undergoing a "7+3" quarantine (seven days of hotel quarantine and three days of quarantine at home) that meets the mainland's epidemic prevention standards, in order to ensure that COVID-19 outbreaks will not flow to the mainland.

This approach will reduce the pressure on quarantine accommodation and personnel in the mainland and increase the security of travel from Hong Kong to the mainland, Lee said.

"At the same time, we are discussing with the mainland increasing the compassionate quotas for outbound arrangements at Shenzhen Bay Port to meet the needs of the people for connectivity, subject to risk control," he said.

"Hong Kong, as a highly open economy, has been very significantly affected by the COVID-19 epidemic over the past three years," Lee said, noting that the SAR government's anti-epidemic route is clear and is moving forward in a gradual manner with the goal of creating maximum space for people's livelihoods and economic activities.

He pointed out that in the three months since the new SAR government took office, it has gradually introduced a number of risk management-based measures to prevent the disease with precision and gradually relaxed controls.

In September, Hong Kong began a major change by relaxing quarantine measures for arriving visitors, with a three-day home quarantine and eliminating the mandatory hotel quarantine.

"Hong Kong's overarching principle in fighting the epidemic is to maximize effectiveness at minimal cost. On the premise that the epidemic remains under control, the government's course of fighting the epidemic is to keep moving forward, adjusting and optimizing measures in the light of the actual situation and changes in the epidemic, to ensure that everything is done in an orderly and steady manner and to move forward gradually," Lee said.

He also stressed to the public that in the process of adjusting the anti-epidemic measures, being too hasty could bring risks that are difficult to reverse.

"We have to keep a close watch on changes in overseas epidemic situations, the possible risks posed by winter influenza, the mutation of virus strains, and the affordability of the local healthcare system," he said. Lee reminded the public to comply and cooperate with the epidemic prevention measures to avoid violating epidemic prevention rules and regulations, so as to better achieve the goal of creating maximum space for livelihoods and economic activity.

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