Visitors from mainland China and Macau can come to Hong Kong without undergoing compulsory Covid-19 quarantine starting from next Wednesday. The government announced that it will allocate a total of 2,000 entries per day.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at Tuesday’s weekly press briefing that the government will roll out the Come2hk scheme next Wednesday. The plan will offer quarantine-free entry to non-Hong Kong residents in the mainland and Macau.
The authorities will allow up to 1,000 visitors to cross the border every day at the Shenzhen Bay Port and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port, respectively. Lam said the scheme had been put on hold because of the “fluctuating” pandemic situation in Hong Kong and on the mainland. But the city had achieved “zero infections” recently, she said, with no record of locally-acquired Covid-19 infections over the past 21 days.
“We have safely passed the virus incubation period and can say that we have achieved zero infections,” Lam told reporters, adding that visitors must obtain a negative RT-PCR nucleic acid test result prior to their visit and will be subject to regular testing upon arrival.
Hongkongers may return from Wed
Meanwhile, the chief executive said the government will also resume the Return2hk scheme on Wednesday, after it was suspended in early August in light of the Covid-19 developments in mainland China. It exempts Hong Kong residents in the mainland and Macau from mandatory quarantine when they come back to the city, but the exemption would not apply to those who have been to “at-risk” places.
Lam said the resumption of quarantine-free travel from the mainland to Hong Kong was “what the general public and the business sector hoped for.”
“Since there was the Return2HK scheme last November, around 200,000 Hongkongers have returned [to the city] and there was no confirmed case. So we need not worry about carrying out this scheme,” she said.
Lam did not mention any vaccine requirement for cross-boundary travel.
On Tuesday, the city’s leader hailed her administration’s “strict measures” as being effective in controlling imported coronavirus cases and preventing them from spreading in the community. Between August 1 and September 5, the city recorded 139 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the 34,300 inbound travellers from high-risk, medium-risk and low-risk countries, Lam said.
She cited the infection ratio of fully vaccinated travellers and those unvaccinated, saying there should not be any doubt over the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines: “After being vaccinated, you can protect yourself from not getting infected easily… vaccination definitely provides a kind of protection.”
Sunday saw the lowest numbers of bookings yet for vaccine appointments, with Lam saying last Tuesday that families, doctors and the press should do more to encourage Hongkongers to get the jab.
Quarantine for domestic workers
The government is set to open the first and second phase of the Penny’s Bay quarantine facilities to incoming foreign domestic workers on September 20. The government-managed centre will provide around 800 rooms, with the daily fees close to HK$500.
Prior to the arrangement, there was only one designated quarantine hotel for migrant workers to complete their 21-day quarantine. Employers had complained that the total cost of HK16,800 was too expensive.
Since the outbreak began, Hong Kong has recorded 12,124 cases of Covid-19 and 212 deaths.