Hong Kong health authorities have announced plans to relax restrictions for travellers from China, Macau and Taiwan despite extending a 14-day mandatory quarantine measure to June 7, amid a drop in the number of reported coronavirus cases.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said on Tuesday that the two-week quarantine requirement under Cap. 599C, which was set to expire next Thursday, will be pushed forward another month.

Health minister Sophia Chan (centre). Photo: inmediahk.net.

The government plans to expand the existing list of exemptions to include cross-border students and people conducting manufacturing operations or business activities considered to be in the city’s “economic interest,” she added.

The health minister said the recommendation to relax restrictions was passed in the Executive Council meeting in the morning and will be gazetted later in the day, though the final details will need to be discussed with the chief secretary. The measure to aid cross-border students would only become applicable once classes resume.

She said further consultation with the Education Bureau and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau on the specifics is required.

Meanwhile, a requirement under Cap. 599D for travellers to provide a health declaration form detailing their medical, travel and contact history has been extended to August 31.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen/United Social Press.

Director of Health Constance Chan raised the possibility of a person, who has completed a 14-day quarantine in the mainland or Macau, being subject to an additional two-week quarantine after arrival in Hong Kong, bringing their total number of days in quarantine to 28.

She said local authorities have conducted preliminary discussions with authorities in China and Macau to reduce the number of quarantine days for those people, subject to certain conditions including a negative Covid-19 test result upon entry.

First detected in China’s Hubei province, Covid-19 has infected more than three million people and led to more than 211,300 deaths worldwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Hong Kong recorded zero new infections for the third consecutive day on Tuesday and single-digit figures for the past week.

Update 29.4.20: In a statement on Wednesday evening, the government said it had gazetted the measures targeting travellers from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan under Cap. 599C. It added the director of health had been empowered to cancel quarantine orders against people arriving from the mainland and Macau if they fulfilled certain criteria, such as a prior 14-day quarantine order and negative Covid-19 test result. Details of the arrangements will be announced later.

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Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.