Hong Kong appears to be one step closer to realizing a "reverse quarantine" arrangement for residents who wish to travel to the mainland, as sources said the isolation site at the Lok Ma Chau Loop will be handed over to the Security Bureau for management from Monday.
The Immigration Department will be in charge of the facility, which houses 10,000 beds in 4,000 rooms. It was built by construction teams from the mainland as a mega makeshift Covid
hospital during the city's fifth Covid
-19 wave last spring.
Sources believe the shift is a good sign that "reverse quarantine" may happen soon.
The quota will increase for those who wish to cross the border to Shenzhen. This comes after almost two months of negotiations between local and mainland counterparts.
The Legislative Council member for Kowloon Central ,Yang Wing-kit, hoped authorities can launch the arrangement as soon as possible.
He suggested requesting assistance from the mainland, who can send medics to Hong Kong and work in the site within a closed-loop management.
They can also test people staying in the quarantine site with mainland PCR test standards.
"The Security Bureau can be responsible for sending residents between the quarantine site and Huanggang port for border crossings," he added.
Yang also hopes authorities can extend the "reverse quarantine" arrangement by building more makeshift hospitals and hotels to boost the quota.
He said the quarantine model can be applied to other methods of transportation, including flights, ships and express rail.
On Sunday, the daily quota for Hong Kong-to-Shenzhen travelers was raised to 1,500 from 1,000, a day after the conclusion of the national congress of the Chinese Communist Party.
Currently, Hongkongers can only enter Shenzhen via Shenzhen Bay after obtaining a quota for a quarantine hotel, where they must stay for seven days, before observing three days of home isolation. The quotas are assigned by ballot.
But even with the increased quota, over 4,000 people have registered for the draw every day over the past week, with many unable to secure a place after several attempts.
On September 1, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said Guangdong has approved his proposal for "reverse quarantine" at Lok Ma Chau in exchange for an increase in the quota for Hong Kong-to-Shenzhen travelers.
However, before it could be executed, the quota was slashed from 2,000 to 1,000 on September 12 due to Covid
outbreaks and lockdowns in Shenzhen.