Hong Kong could further relax travel curbs by scrapping the three-day medical surveillance for overseas arrivals next month - if Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations keep falling, says New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.
But Ip, the convener of the Executive Council and a lawmaker, said yesterday that the prospect of travel curbs being eased further was her own prediction and was not discussed in Exco.
"Of course everyone wants '0+0.' Who doesn't want to resume normal life? But like the Chief Executive [John Lee Ka-chiu] said, we need to look at the data and currently about 2,000 people are still hospitalized," Ip said.
The government has scrapped hotel quarantine requirements for arrivals, but they must still observe a three-day medical surveillance that bars them from many venues.
Ip said the government needs to strike a balance between the economy and convenience of traveling with the impact on the medical system. "Based on the current trend in which the number of infections and hospitalizations keep falling, I believe '0+3' can be changed to '0+0' soon. Hopefully it can be done in October," she said.
On social distancing measures, Ip said restrictions on restaurants can be eased first so that each table can have more diners, while live performance can also be allowed. The mask-wearing rule can be relaxed later, she added.
Despite Hong Kong's competitiveness being impeded by its Covid
rules, she said the city still has its own attraction and can bounce back soon. "The lifestyles in this city also have attractiveness and some foreigners have found Singapore boring," she said.
Meanwhile, the honorary president of the Institution of Dining Art, Simon Wong Kit-lung, believed the current "0+3" arrangement for arrivals is the "darkness before dawn" of normalcy and the government would not tighten the rules again.
Looking for a boost to business ahead of the Christmas season, Wong hoped the cap on diners per table and dine-in service hours can be relaxed.
Hong Kong yesterday reported 3,911 new infections, including 208 imported cases and 14 related deaths.