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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

‘9 million to pass through Hong Kong border control points over festive period’

‘9 million to pass through Hong Kong border control points over festive period’

Immigration Department predicts sharp year-on-year increase in travellers during first long holiday after lifting of Covid-19 travel curbs.

More than 9 million people are expected to pass through Hong Kong’s border control points during the Ching Ming Festival and Easter next week, the Immigration Department has said, estimating a sharp year-on-year increase in travellers during the first long holiday after the lifting of Covid-19 curbs.

The department on Thursday also said 83.5 per cent, or 7.54 million, of the passengers would enter and leave Hong Kong through land boundary control points from April 1 to 10, with the data including both city residents and visitors.

It said it expected 522,000 outbound travellers on April 7, and 519,000 inbound ones on April 10.

Travellers at the Lok Ma Chau-Huanggang cross-boundary shuttle bus terminal in Hong Kong.

The tomb-sweeping Ching Ming Festival falls on April 5.

The total estimate of 9.03 million passengers this year marks a significant increase compared with last year’s figures, with data from the department showing only 17,220 passed through Hong Kong’s border control points, while 25,499 left the city during the same period.

During that time, Hong Kong and mainland China were battling the fifth and worst Covid-19 wave because of an Omicron outbreak.

Both places implemented strict social-distancing rules, including a closed-loop arrangement for cross-boundary truck drivers.

All border restrictions between Hong Kong and the mainland were lifted in early February after more than three years of pandemic curbs.

The department said: “To cope with the anticipated heavy traffic during the festive period, the [department] has minimised leave for frontline officers for flexible deployment and operation of extra clearance counters and kiosks.”

“Additional security guards will also be deployed to provide crowd management support.”

The department also estimated that Lo Wu would be the busiest land control point, with about 2.2 million passengers and a daily average of around 220,000 travelling via the location during the festive period.

Travellers arrive in Hong Kong from mainland China.

It added passenger traffic at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge control point would also be heavy, with a daily average of about 147,000 and 138,000 passengers respectively.

Both Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line were completely shut off to passengers last year, while the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge control point saw just 721 arrivals and 1,858 departures.

The department also urged land boundary passengers to plan in advance and avoid travelling during busy periods to prevent being caught up in congestion and longer wait times for immigration clearance.

Authorities will also set up a joint command centre at Lo Wu control point and will work closely with mainland officials to ensure smooth traffic flow.

In response to demand over the Easter long weekend, Citybus and Long Win Bus said they would increase services to the city’s border checkpoints, including the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge and the local airport.

Starting next Monday, residents can take bus routes A, A11, A21, A29, A31, A32, A36, A41, NA40 and B5 to the bridge and the airport. They will run in intervals of 10 to 15 minutes.

The department spokeswoman said it would extend its service hours next Wednesday and Friday at the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai for identity card applications, adding residents could book time slots beginning next Wednesday at midnight.

In a separate announcement, the department said starting this Friday, residents could register births and deaths online. Parents will have a 42-day period to apply for a birth certificate for their newborns, while declarants must submit cases of natural death within two weeks.

Residents can complete the registration process through the department’s mobile app or via websites www.immd.gov.hk/ebirthreg or www.immd.gov.hk/edeathreg.


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