Couple of kinks to iron out and reopening gets all-clear

Top News | Wallis Wang 26 Nov 2021

Hong Kong has now entered the homestretch for reopening of the border because Beijing officials reckon the SAR has fulfilled requirements for that step, Chief Secretary for Administration John Lee Ka-chiu said after leading a delegation to meet mainland experts and officials in Shenzhen yesterday.

Although a target date has not been set, Lee said both sides want a reopening as soon as possible.

But before that step is taken, SAR officials have to submit reports on the reopening operation, such as a border-crosser quota and a circuit-breaking system.

And the Innovation and Technology Bureau will announce details of the Hong Kong health code system next week so people who wish to travel to the mainland can familiarize themselves with an app that ties in with the LeaveHomeSafe system, Lee said.

Speaking at briefing after the meeting, Lee said mainland experts believe Hong Kong is ready for a border opening after their trip to the SAR to check around, and administration departments are making final preparations for the resumption of quarantine-free travel with the mainland.

Lee said mainland and Hong Kong officials share the goal of resuming cross-border travel as soon as possible, but he did not reveal the exact border reopening date.

"I know many people are waiting for the resumption of quarantine-free travel, and there are rumors about the launch date," he said. "But I hope the public understands reopening the border with the mainland is a process and we will inform people when a decision is made."

On a daily quota of travelers, he said officials are still discussing numbers.

They are also talking about a suspension system to prevent any cross-border virus transmission and on allocating manpower at border control points.

Lee revealed too that the Hong Kong health code system will tie with the LeaveHomeSafe app and require real-name registration.

Secretary for Innovation and Technology Alfred Sit Wing-hang said officials have finished developing the health code and it will be available for people to download early next month.

The bureau will also introduce the app in detail next week, Sit said, adding that a team will be working on the interaction of the Hong Kong and mainland health codes.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said health authorities will further tighten anti-epidemic measures regarding high-risk groups, including airport and quarantine hotel staff, who will have to undergo tests every two days.

The contact tracing office of the Centre for Health Protection will be in touch with mainland health authorities to update them on the latest pandemic and tracing situation and case tracking.

Hong Kong yesterday recorded six imported cases from France, the Philippines, Thailand, Russia, Nepal and Bangladesh, taking the tally to 12,418 cases with 213 deaths.

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