Mainland blocks on SARs

Top News | Sophie Hui 3 Feb 2020

Chinese immigration authorities have stopped accepting, approving and issuing Hong Kong and Macau travel permits for mainlanders.

That includes tour groups, individual visits and one-trip-a-week permits for Shenzhen residents.

All kiosks and online platform have also suspended services until further notice.

And would-be border crossers will not be able to collect permits even if they were already approved. But people who want to cancel applications can get refunds for fees already paid.

Additionally, people who have valid permits but cannot visit Hong Kong or Macau can reapply for permits with need to pay fees.

But the suspension of permits does not apply to people who need to travel to one of the two SARs for study, emergencies such as seeking medical treatment or attending funerals.

Meanwhile, mainlanders have been told not to travel abroad.

Related to that, many Hongkongers in tour groups were stranded for up to 17 hours in Vietnam after Hanoi banned flights to anywhere in the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau until further notice.

But several hours after the order was made flights to Hong Kong and Macau were allowed to leave.

The first flight, with some of the 200 stranded hongkongers, landed shortly after midnight yesterday.

Travel Industry Council executive director Alice Chan Cheung Lok-yee said about 500 people from 16 tour groups were to return yesterday and today.

“Tour groups who are in Vietnam should be able to return to Hong Kong on schedule," she said. "Tour groups going to Vietnam can also depart on schedule.”

Vietnam on Saturday declared a public health emergency and said it would halt all flights to and from China, Reuters reported, but then its civil aviation authority lifted the ban on flights to Taiwan and yesterday said carriers could also operate flights for now to Hong Kong and Macau.

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