Only 2,140 residents - less than half of the daily quota of 5,000 - have come home without undergoing a 14-day quarantine on the first day of the "Return2hk" scheme amid the rapidly growing fourth wave.
As of 6pm yesterday, 1,810 people returned home through the Shenzhen Bay Port and 330 through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
More than 10,000 applied to return this week.
Yesterday, hundreds flocked in from the Shenzhen Bay Port within an hour of the border control point opening at 10am.
One man said he has not come home for almost a year and took advantage of the scheme to visit his family. "I decided not to return before as I think it is too troublesome to undergo a 14-day quarantine," he said.
"I plan to stay until border controls are lifted and quarantine is not necessary."
Those who crossed through the Shenzhen Bay Port were satisfied with the scheme's first day of operation.
A woman named Chan, who visited Shenzhen in early August, said the crossing was not all that different from normal border crossing procedures, except for the fact that she had to present a QR code that shows she tested negative.
Chan added that authorities have posted a video on social media explaining the procedure.
Retired civil servant Cheung also visited Shenzhen in late-January and said he was pleased to be able to meet his family again, adding that the procedure did not take long.
"I am returning to deal with banking matters. As the pandemic has yet to be brought under control in Hong Kong, I might still return to the mainland," Cheung said.
"The outbreak is starting to worsen here in Hong Kong, so I will refrain from meeting up with a large group of friends."
The Return2hk scheme allows Hong Kong residents a quarantine-free return from Guangdong and Macau as long as they test negative 72 hours before crossing the border.