Authorities To Allow Quarantine-free Travel Between HK & China By June
HONG KONG – Government officials in Beijing revealed that Hong Kong’s land border with mainland China will fully reopen sans travellers needing to undergo quarantine by June 2022 at the latest, reported The South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Monday evening (8 November, SGT).
The sources said the reopening, which Hong Kong’s local officials have been actively lobbying for due to the severe effect of the border closures on the city’s economy, has “received the attention of top Chinese leaders” and all sides are “working hard to make it happen”.
On Thursday, a representative from the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office verified that government officials from mainland China and Hong Kong have reached a “significant consensus” over reopening the border.
The sources said that if everything goes smoothly, the full border reopening could occur earlier than June, but it would start from a three-step plan commencing in mid-December 2021.
It would begin with a small pilot programme involving daily quotas, followed by an expansion in February that permits “mass events”. By June 2022, several of the 10 land checkpoints with mainland China would fully reopen, enabling a set number of individuals to cross every day without being subjected to quarantine as long as they comply with certain conditions.
These include being inoculated against COVID-19, undergo a nucleic acid testing, upload records from the “Leave Home Safe” contact-tracing app, and apply for a health code upon arrival in mainland China.
A mainland-registered smartphone phone number may also be needed for contact purposes and to enable government officials to monitor people’s movements.
Notably, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has repeatedly reiterated that the Chinese territory will focus on reopening its borders with mainland China instead of resuming international travel amid the pandemic.
She said quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and mainland China will be initially limited to Guangdong province utilising a quota system, with priority given to business exchanges and people attending funerals or visiting the elderly. However, it would be hard to give priority to cross-border students due to their huge numbers.