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Sunday, Jul 03, 2022

One case too many for mainland border reopening

One case too many for mainland border reopening

The quarantine-free cross-border travel with the mainland will be suspended when there is one local Covid-19 infection in Hong Kong, and the quota may increase to 3,000 per day, sources said.
It is understood that the SAR will adopt the same suspension mechanism as other provinces in the mainland, which only allows trans-provincial travel among low-risk areas.

According to mainland authorities, only places with no new Covid-19 cases for 14 days can be listed as low-risk areas.

Cities that record no more than 10 local cases in 14 days are medium-risk places, while those with more than 10 cases in the same period are classified as high-risk areas.

Sources said the suspension mechanism will be triggered when Hong Kong is classified as a medium or high risk area, meaning one local infection could lead to travel suspension.

But it is understood that the suspension mechanism is not too rigid as sources said mainland authorities will review Hong Kong’s situation and make the final decision on whether it is necessary to close the border again.

Sources also said the cross-border travel quota can be increased to as many as 3,000 people per day, which would significantly exceed earlier 1,000-person predictions.

A daily quote of 3,000 travelers is “doable” because of full preparation and technical capacities, sources said.

This came after the business sector -- the priority group in border reopening arrangement -- said a daily quota of 1,000 will not be enough. Grassroots citizens also urged the government to reserve more than half of the quota for family visits and people with special needs.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has earlier reassured that the government will allow citizens in need to secure a quota to cross the border apart from reserving quota for businessmen.

But she appealed to those without urgent needs to travel to the mainland to save the quota for those really in need.

Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun has earlier said the government could announce border-opening arrangements, including the launch date, as early as Friday. (Dec 17)

Executive council member Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung also said the quarantine-free travel with Guangdong can be resumed at the end of the month at the earliest.

However, it is understood that the current Covid-19 outbreak in Guangdong may affect the border reopening progress.

Dongguan recorded six more cases on Wednesday. Guangzhou, which recorded an Omicron case on Tuesday, also saw another case on Wednesday involving an international cargo flight crew member.

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