Border reopening could be limited at first: CE

Chief Executive Carrie Lam says Hong Kong will have to reopen its border with the mainland in stages, with cities in Guangdong expected to be the first to resume quarantine-free travel with the SAR.

In an interview with Hong Kong Economic Times published on Monday, Lam said authorities have yet to decide whether the SAR should resume travel with the whole of Guangdong in one go, or with certain cities in the province first, such as Shenzhen or other Greater Bay Area cities.

The CE added that there would be a quota on cross-border travel initially, and authorities would decide which groups should get priority.

She said priority would likely be given to people with business needs or on compassionate grounds, including people with urgent needs to visit the elderly or attend family funerals.

But she said it would be difficult to allow cross-border students to resume classes in the initial stage, as there are simply too many of them.

The CE said she believed travellers will have to be fully vaccinated against Covid, get a negative test result for the coronavirus, and upload their travel records onto their LeaveHomeSafe app.

Lam said they would also have to use the mainland’s health code system so authorities could monitor their whereabouts.

She also said the SAR government is looking into expanding its LeaveHomeSafe rule by requiring people to use it at more places, adding that it’d be difficult to reopen the border with the mainland if the app is only being used here on a small scale.

“For the greater public interest, [we] may have to take further step to require more places to use the LeaveHomeSafe app. I hope people could understand,” she said.

Lam said she understood people who have no plans to go to the mainland might be unhappy with the restriction, but “to a certain degree, the majority rules”.