As such, HKSAR leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said the focus remains on achieving the "zero infection" goal.
"The HKSAR Government will continue to strengthen anti-epidemic measures with the target of 'zero infection' in order to foster favourable conditions for the early resumption of quarantine-free travel between the Mainland and Hong Kong in a gradual and orderly manner, with a view to meeting the aspirations of the general public," a spokesperson for the government has said in a press release.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), preference will be given to business travellers should the border reopen, citing Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaking at a business luncheon on Tuesday, 3 November.
In addition, if there was to be a resumption of Hong Kong-Mainland travel, it would be "gradual", and it would be "logical" to start with the Greater Bay Area, rather than going straight to cities like Beijing or Shanghai, CE Lam told SCMP in an interview, adding that such arrangements would be implemented with strict quotas in place.
"I’m sure business needs will take precedence over individual tourists. Secondly, it will have to be quota-based in order to control the numbers. And then, thirdly, there will be conditions,” she said, as cited by The Post from her speech.
“Whoever wants to travel, even if you belong to the priority category, even if you manage to get a quota, you have to fulfil certain conditions. And that will be the framework of what is now being discussed.”
CE Lam also urged attendees to promote or even mandate the use of the government's LeaveHomeSafe mobile app.
“My final appeal is: please help us in promoting, or even mandating the use of the LeaveHomeSafe’ mobile app when entering your business premises or institutions, and also encourage Hong Kong people, especially elderly people, to take the jab. Thank you very much,” she said.
In a separate interview on icable, CE Lam said the government has no plans to add a tracking function to the 'LeaveHomeSafe' Covid-19 app, but people would need to upload their check-in records if they want to avoid quarantine when they travel to the Mainland in the future.
Meetings between Mainland officials and Hong Kong were first held in September and were followed up on 2 Nov.
"The video conference exchange was constructive, heading towards the goal of resumption of quarantine-free travel, and was conducive to the forthcoming second meeting," the same press release said Thursday.
"The HKSAR Government will continue to work towards the goal of "zero infection", and guard sternly against the importation of cases and the resurgence of local infections. The HKSAR Government will also continue to strengthen and put forward various anti-epidemic measures in accordance with the principle of joint prevention and control, in order to ensure that resumption of quarantine-free travel would not impose additional risk to the anti-epidemic work in the Mainland."
Lead image / 123RF