Omicron could set back border reopening: Michael Tien

Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien says he expects quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and the mainland to resume soon, if the new Omicron variant doesn’t torpedo the plan.

The government’s expected to announce a new health code system for Hong Kong residents this week. Tien said he doesn’t expect the system to involve a new mobile app.

“The health code app that they’re going to reveal consists of two parts. One is the LeaveHomeSafe. They will make it mandatory for all restaurants starting next week, but that’s in our phone,” he said.

“So when you enter the mainland you produce your phone to let them download your record, and then they will give you an entry health code app.”

Tien said this app is only usable on the mainland, pointing out that everyone already has to get that anyway.

“So really there’s nothing new. They’re just taking whatever people are using today and they give it a new name.”

Tien said he was giving 50-50 odds for quarantine-free travel to the mainland to resume by December 31 and was pretty sure border crossings would reopen at least by Chinese New Year. “But with the … latest Omicron variant being identified I don’t know what effect that will have on this whole timetable,” he said.

Tien is running for the New Territories North West seat in next month’s Legislative Council elections. The DAB’s Holden Chow and Third Side candidate Wong Chun Long are also standing in the constituency.