A government scheme allowing Hong Kong residents to return to the region from mainland China and Macau without serving mandatory quarantine opened for applications on Wednesday. The “Return2HK” scheme will exempt adult applicants who can show negative Covid-19 test results 24 hours before travelling.

Other conditions of entry include being holders of a valid Hong Kong identity card and not having stayed in any other regions outside of Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong in the 14 days prior to travelling.

Shenzhen Bay Port
Shenzhen Bay Port. Photo: Wikicommons.

The online booking system for the first batch of travellers will be open until 6pm on Friday. Travellers will be able to book a travel time within seven days of their application. The system operates on a first-come-first-served basis, with daily quotas set at 3,000 for those incoming from Guangdong and 2,000 for those travelling from Macau.

The travel scheme opens amid tighter restrictions on hotel quarantine and arrangements for incoming diplomats from “very high risk” countries. Currently, every incoming traveller to Hong Kong outside of Guangzhou and Macau must serve a 14-day quarantine in a hotel following a daily rise to double-digit infections earlier this week.

All diplomatic staff apart from Consul-Generals or those of an equivalent rank will also be required to serve 14 days of mandatory quarantine from Wednesday. Countries considered “very high risk” include the UK and the US.

Covid-19 coronavirus virus restaurant
Photo: GovHK.

“The exemption status… of the consular and diplomatic officers… are determined by their official capacity and relevant official duties with a view to safeguarding normal operation of the governments,” a government spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan warned of a potential fourth wave this week, calling for public vigilance against further spread of the virus.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.