Unvaccinated individuals travelling from mainland China to Hong Kong can obtain a Vaccine Pass after entering the city because of the low Covid-19 infection rate across the border, Chief Executive John Lee has said, adding that the policy had been in place “for a long time. ”

John Lee
Chief Executive John Lee meets the press on Tuesday morning. Photo: RTHK, via screenshot.

Lee’s comment came after user of Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu posted about being able to obtain a provisional Vaccine Pass in Hong Kong with no vaccination history or proof of exemption after entering the city from Shenzhen.

The post was then shared on local forum LIHKG on Sunday, drawing criticism of the government’s different treatment of mainland Chinese arrivals and Hong Kong residents, as well as concerns over a possible loophole in the authorities’ anti-epidemic efforts.

When asked about the matter during Tuesday morning’s routine press conference, the chief executive said that the policy allowing mainland travellers to enter Hong Kong without meeting any vaccination requirements “has been implemented for a long time.”

“The main reason is that the risk of Covid-19 infection in the mainland is the lowest in the world,” Lee said. “It’s risk, when compared with Hong Kong, has been much lower.”

Lee said the authorities would continue to review the measure according to the situation of the pandemic. There had not been any cases imported from the mainland because of the vaccination exemption, Lee said.

Provisional Vaccine Pass

According to the social media post, the Xiaohongshu user had entered Hong Kong from neighbouring Shenzhen on August 18. She had not received any doses of a Covid-19 vaccination or received medical exemptions.

Xiaohungshu post
The concerned Xiaohungshu post. Photo: LIHKG.

She was not required to quarantine and was able to obtain a provisional Vaccine Pass at a post office that generated a blue code in LeaveHomeSafe – the government’s contact tracing app – meaning that she was allowed to freely enter all premises covered by the city’s Vaccine Pass scheme, such as restaurants and shopping malls.

“I thought my plan to visit Disneyland would be spoiled, but now I can go, hurray!” the post read.

As per a government statement published on May 5, arrivals from the mainland or Macau who were not required to undergo compulsory quarantine have been allowed to obtain the provisional Vaccine Pass by completing a declaration form as well as presenting their identity document and “other relevant proof” at a designated post office. The provisional pass remains valid for 180 days.

Meanwhile, those who visit the city from overseas must have received at least two jabs to obtain the provisional pass. International arrivals must also quarantine at a designated hotel at their own expense for three nights upon entering the city, followed by four days of “medical surveillance,” during which they will be issued a yellow code in their LeaveHomeSafe app that bars them from entering restaurants and other premises under the vaccine pass scheme.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.