Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks at the second Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development forum and prize presentation ceremony, Nov 5, 2021. (PHOTO / INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT, HKSAR)
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Friday that quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland should largely return to normal by February, and allow more cross-border events to be held in the region.
READ MORE: HK to tighten quarantine exemption arrangements
It is expected that the “border reopening” will occur by Feb 18, when the region will celebrate the third anniversary of the release of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area outline development plan, Lam told a local forum on future regional development.
Quarantine-free cross-border travel between Hong Kong and the mainland has been suspended for 21 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lam said she acknowledges the strong desire for the border reopening and hopes to bring good news to Hong Kong people soon. She did not elaborate on the details except to say that Hong Kong officials and experts have made progress with their mainland counterparts in their most recent meetings.
As of the end of this month, the Hong Kong government will make it mandatory for consumers at all local restaurants to use the LeaveHomeSafe app to mark their visit, in an effort to increase its tracing ability, Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said on Friday, citing government sources
In a local media report released on Thursday, Lam said that the new cross-border arrangements to offer quarantine exemptions will start in December among certain groups, such as the business sector.
Lam’s remarks came as the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said in a Thursday statement that the resumption of quarantine-free travel between the mainland and Hong Kong was proceeding in an orderly manner. Experts from both sides have met to discuss specific issues to prevent the cross-border spread of COVID19, the office said, adding the central government considers the issue a high priority.
ALSO READ: HKMAO: Mainland, HKSAR working toward reopening border
As of the end of this month, the Hong Kong government will make it mandatory for consumers at all local restaurants to use the LeaveHomeSafe app to mark their visit, in an effort to increase its tracing ability, Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said on Friday, citing government sources.
The move follows a series of measures by Hong Kong that tightens its pandemic restrictions to better align its policies with those of the mainland. Since Monday, almost all visitors to government premises have been required to scan the venue QR code to record their entrance. On Friday, quarantine exemptions for senior executives and bankers will be canceled.
READ MORE: LeaveHomeSafe app required in govt venues from Nov 1
Ronald Cheng Peng-chung, who owns a media technology company in Shenzhen, said a large-scale border reopening is surely good news for Hong Kong society and him personally. The travel restrictions have long impeded necessary business exchanges between the two places. He has not returned to his home in Hong Kong since February 2020.
Edward Cheung Sze-chung, a Hong Kong entrepreneur who runs an e-commerce business in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, is optimistic that the border will reopen smoothly in February, given that the pandemic has been under control in Hong Kong for months.
Fung Wing-cheong, deputy director of the Shenzhen service center of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said he expects the government could take the lead in facilitating cross-border travel among Hong Kong students and patients who reside on the mainland, considering their acute need for face-to-face classes and medical treatment.
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