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Monday, April 26, 2021, 14:19
HK to expand Return2hk program, logs 4 new virus cases
By Wang Zhan
Monday, April 26, 2021, 14:19 By Wang Zhan

Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, secretary for the civil service, speaks at a press conference at the Central Government Office, in Hong Kong, on April 22, 2020. (PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has decided to expand the coverage of the Return2hk Travel Scheme, which exempts Hong Kong residents from the two-week mandatory home quarantine when they return to the city from the Chinese mainland and Macao.

In press briefing on Monday, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said that from April 29 at the soonest, the program will cover returnees from all over the mainland and not just those coming from Macao and Guangdong cities.

The HKSAR government is planning to introduce a new program that allows Guangdong and Macao residents to visit Hong Kong without being quarantined by mid-May

Under the scheme, up to 6,000 Hong Kong residents per day are allowed to enter the city, quarantine-free, if they had tested negative for COVID-19. They would again get tested after their arrival in the city.

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A quota of 3,000 was allotted to the Shenzhen Bay Control Point, 2,000 at Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, and 1,000 for those arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport. Online registration will open on Tuesday.

Nip said that the HKSAR government is planning to introduce a new program that allows Guangdong and Macao residents to visit Hong Kong without being quarantined by mid-May.

Asked when Hong Kong residents would be exempted from quarantine upon their arrival in the mainland, Nip said it would depend on whether the local virus situation in Hong Kong would remain under control.

It is rather difficult for the mainland to exempt Hong Kong residents when it regards Hong Kong as a medium-and-high-risk region, Nip said, adding that the HKSAR government is in talks with mainland authorities over the feasibility of easing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents.

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“The indicators are zero, or near zero, (local) infections, particularly no unlinked cases. The second indicator is vaccination rate. … As long as Hong Kong is still classified as a medium-and-high-risk area, I’m sure we will be far from achieving that (the two-way quarantine exemption)," he said.

Since the program was rolled out in late November last year, more than 135,900 persons had returned to the city without undergoing quarantine from Guangdong and Macao. No one was found carrying the virus to Hong Kong, according to government records.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong reported four new COVID-19 cases on Monday, all imported, pushing the city’s tally to 11,740.

The latest count included a 41-year-old woman arriving from Kenya, a 60-year-old woman from India, a 27-year-old man from Japan and a 57-year-old man from the United States, according to a statement issued by the Centre for Health Protection.

All of them, except for the 57-year-old man, were asymptomatic.

Over the past 14 days, the city recorded 155 new coronavirus infections, 37 of which were locally transmitted and 17 were untraceable.

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