HKSAR CE Carrie Lam said that in order to resume some quarantine-free travel with the Mainland, Hong Kong has to ensure that its anti-COVID-19 practices are more in line with the Mainland practices.
At the moment, the Hong Kong SAR Government's top strategy on reopening borders is to try and "work very hard to resume some travel with the Mainland, especially for the business people", Chief Executive (CE) Carrie Lam has said.
These remarks were made by the CE at a media session before the Executive Council meeting on 26 October, as she responded to concerns that the cross-border restrictions are leaving many foreign business leaders, including those in the financial sector, wary that Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre is at risk.
Saying that this is a "very difficult subject", she said the Government is caught in a dilemma, as in, "in order to resume some quarantine-free travel with the Mainland we have to ensure that our anti-COVID-19 practices are more in line with the Mainland practices". This, she said, will give Mainland authorities the confidence to allow Hong Kong people to go into the Mainland without being subject to the 14-day plus seven-day quarantine.
As such, the focus for Hong Kong is on controlling the import of possible cases. "If Hong Kong were to loosen the border controls for people arriving from overseas or adopt what other countries have done - so-called to live with the COVID-19 virus - then the chances of resuming travel with the Mainland will be reduced," CE Lam clarified.
This, she said, must be viewed in the context that Hong Kong's primary advantage lies in being the gateway to the Mainland of China.
"If businesses established in Hong Kong could not go into the Mainland, I think it will significantly reduce the attraction of Hong Kong as an international business hub and an international financial centre."
Thus, she gave an insight into the current border strategy: "At the moment, the Hong Kong SAR Government's strategy is to try to work very hard to resume some travel with the Mainland, especially for the business people."
Going forward, if the global situation stabilises, i.e. if confirmed cases in the countries where people want to come to Hong Kong come down, then, she added, that they will be taken off the list of Group A countries (which are subject to 21 days of quarantine), and come to Group B instead (which is 14-day quarantine after full vaccination), or, better still, they could come down to Group C (with only seven-day quarantine).
"But the current situation is we have not yet reached that stage, whether locally, with the Mainland or globally," CE concluded.
Border updates from around the region:
- Vietnam's Phú Quốc island to welcome vaccinated tourists from 20 November 2021
- Langkawi to pilot international tourism bubble from 15 Nov 2021: SOPs to note
- Visitors from 46 countries/territories can fly into Thailand quarantine-free, effective 1 Nov 2021