Truck scale

HK expects ‘large-scale’ reopening with mainland in February

HONG KONG (The Straits Times / Asia News Network): By February next year, Hong Kong could reopen its borders with the mainland on a “large scale,” the city’s chief said on Friday (November 5), breaking the long silence on a deadline for visits without quarantine between the two parties.

Speaking at the second Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Wider Bay Area Development Forum, Chief Executive Officer Carrie Lam said her government hopes to host large-scale events in February.

“For now, the Secretary for Constitutional and Continental Affairs Erick Tsang is preparing for this. We hope to organize a major seminar to mark the third anniversary of Beijing’s development plan for the Great Bay region.

“Next year is also the 25th anniversary of the transition from British rule to Chinese rule, so I hope everyone here will work together to create an environment for us to reopen borders with the mainland smoothly,” he said. Lam said.

Describing the recent talks between Hong Kong and mainland officials as “good progress,” she said various sectors were eagerly awaiting travel to the mainland without having to undergo a quarantine, and talks on that front have been positive.

Local media reported Thursday, November 4, that the quarantine-free travel between the two sides could take place as early as December, with the initial plan being limited to Guangdong province to begin with.

On the same day, the Hong Kong-Macao Affairs Bureau said the two sides “were working on a gradual reopening of the border,” while the Hong Kong government said the video call between experts and officials two parties Tuesday (November 2) was “constructive” and “favorable”.

Hong Kong has avoided having outbreaks of Covid-19 in the community for about five months, with the number of cases confirmed to date at more than 12,300 and 213 deaths.

As part of its efforts to push for reopening with the mainland, the government is tightening measures and loopholes.

These include removing quarantine exemptions for most diplomats and researchers, as well as sending recovered patients discharged from hospitals to an isolation center for a 14-day quarantine.

From November 12, those exempt from quarantine will be reduced to cross-border truck and coach drivers, airline cabin crew, cargo ship maritime personnel and government officials in the line of duty.

In recent months, international trade lobby groups have warned that Hong Kong could lose talent and investment unless it eases border and quarantine controls.

They sought to ask the government to facilitate travel, adding that Hong Kong was losing to rival Singapore’s financial center, but Lam reiterated that the priority is to reopen borders with the mainland – Hong Kong’s main source of growth. Kong.