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Monday, Feb 06, 2023

More focus placed on reverse quarantine

More focus placed on reverse quarantine

Reopening borders with the mainland and overseas are "equally important," but they must be pursued in tandem, John Lee said.
But he failed to mention a timeline to introduce a 0+0 arrangement for arrivals or for resuming quarantine-free travel with the mainland.

Lee said his first target is to implement "reverse quarantine" for Hongkongers who wish to travel to the mainland, "subject to manageable risk level," and to increase compassionate quotas for traveling to Shenzhen.

However, government sources said there are challenges in realizing reverse quarantine at the Lok Ma Chau Loop makeshift isolation facility, with manpower being the biggest obstacle.

It could be difficult to pass the mainland's Covid risk assessments under the SAR's current situation. Yesterday, Hong Kong reported 5,124 infections and 12 deaths.

From today, authorities will loosen the social gathering cap to 12 from four and allow live performances in restaurants and bars.

The sources said authorities believe it is necessary to keep the cap as it is effective in certain premises.

The vaccine pass will also likely remain next year but, as of now, authorities have no plans to extend the three-jab requirement to four.

The chief executive reiterated five anti-pandemic principles: not to "lie flat," reduce critical cases and deaths, protect high-risk groups, classify people into different risk levels for precise policy design, and strike a balance between Covid risks and economic needs.

"I've mentioned on many occasions that we should avoid 'backtracking' along our path of combating the epidemic," Lee said, adding they will enhance measures progressively.

However, he said authorities must closely monitor outbreaks globally, possible risks from winter influenza, new virus variants and the health-care system's capacity.

"We have to present the true picture of Hong Kong to the world and promote our strengths, achievements and opportunities, and that the city is a good place where people can make their dreams come true," he said.

Lee and his top officials will lead delegations to overseas events, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economic leaders' meeting next month and the "Think Business, Think Hong Kong" campaign in Thailand next year.

He said Financial Secretary Paul Chan will lead a task force that together with a "Hong Kong team" will rebuild the city's image.

The task force will launch a new program to invite around 1,000 prominent leaders globally to visit Hong Kong on sponsorship.
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