Hong Kong will prioritize quarantine-free travel for business people when its China border reopens, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, warning that the city’s vaccination rate could curb a broader roll-out.
“If we cannot raise our vaccination rate, it will be a hindrance to expanding our border reopening plan,” Lam said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday.
Only 61% of the city’s people have been fully inoculated, according to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker – far behind Singapore’s 88% figure.
The government is working to set quotas for business people in different sectors to prepare for central authorities confirming when quarantine-free travel can resume, Lam said.
“As an economic hub, we need to prioritize travel for those who need to enter China for business,” she said, adding that the government would also like to have quotas for members of the public not involved in business or government activities.
Lam did not say how big the overall quota would be.
Chief Secretary John Lee said last month that Hong Kong had fulfilled the basic conditions to restart cross-border travel, after city officials committed to introducing a mainland-style Hong Kong health code that will launch this week.
City officials have held at least two meetings with mainland authorities about reopening the border, and a delegation from China has inspected the city’s pandemic measures.
Those signs indicate that after almost two years of near-isolation, Hong Kong travelers may finally be able to travel quarantine-free to mainland China – one of the few places on earth that is hanging on to a Covid zero policy.
But any change to Hong Kong’s quarantine requirements for travelers from other destinations is likely at least half a year away.
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