Hong Kong to End Quarantines for Mainland China Arrivals

But there is no timeline for when Beijing will lift border restrictions on those going the other way.

Taking in the view of Victoria Harbour from Kowloon. (Photo: Chromatograph/Unsplash)

Starting from September 15, residents of Mainland China and Macau will be able to enter Hong Kong without going into quarantine on arrival. The territory’s soon-to-launch Come2hk scheme will let in a total of 2,000 visitors per day, with half channeled through the Shenzhen Bay border crossing and the other half via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Travelers will have to obtain a negative result in a PCR test before departure and undergo several more tests while in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has successfully kept out the highly infectious Delta variant through a mix of tough entry restrictions, including 21-day quarantines for arrivals from high-risk countries. Official statistics say that the last local case was recorded more than three weeks ago. In a Q&A session held with lawmakers earlier today, Chief Executive Carrie Lam stressed her government’s commitment to its zero-Covid approach, in line with the elimination policy practiced just across the border. “Hong Kong cannot and should not adopt a strategy of ‘coexisting with the virus’,” she said.

Lam’s administration has been prioritizing the resumption of two-way quarantine free travel with Mainland China over the rest of the world. The top bureaucrat added that she has been actively lobbying Beijing to relax border restrictions with Hong Kong since the territory’s fourth wave of Covid-19 was declared over at the end of May. But there have been no signs that Chinese officials will reciprocate the measure, and some experts suggest that will happen only when Hong Kong’s overall vaccination rate reaches a threshold of 70 percent. “One thing that Hong Kong people can do to facilitate the reopening of the border is to get vaccinated,” Lam said.

Recent months have seen a significant boost to Hong Kong’s lackluster vaccination drive, partially fueled by a dizzying range of incentives, not least a lucky draw to win a one-bedroom apartment worth US$1.3 million. However, the number of new inoculations has tapered off in recent days. Just under 58 percent of the population have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 jab, while about 49 percent have been fully vaccinated. As a recent report in Fortune magazine says, Hong Kong is now in the unenviable position of hoping for Mainland China to reopen its borders while remaining sealed off from the rest of the world, at a time when other global financial hubs are already welcoming back international travelers.

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