HK to quarantine all arrivals from the mainland - RTHK
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HK to quarantine all arrivals from the mainland

2020-02-05 HKT 16:52
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  • Chief Executive Carrie Lam says the quarantine can't begin until Saturday, because the government needs time to sort out the relevant legislation. Image: RTHK
    Chief Executive Carrie Lam says the quarantine can't begin until Saturday, because the government needs time to sort out the relevant legislation. Image: RTHK
The Hong Kong government on Wednesday said it will quarantine anyone who arrives in the territory from the mainland for 14 days, in light of the widespread coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The move, announced at a press briefing by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, is to come into effect on Saturday.

Lam said everyone arriving from the mainland would be subject to the mandatory quarantine, be they mainlanders, foreigners or Hongkongers.

She couldn't say whether SAR residents would be allowed to stay at home for the two-week quarantine period, saying details will be provided later.

Lam said the measure can't begin until Saturday, because the government needs time to sort out the relevant legislation, and she also wants cross-border commuters to have advance notice of the move.

Arrival figures from Tuesday showed tens of thousands of people came into Hong Kong from the mainland.

The CE said she expects the numbers to fall when the new quarantine measure comes into effect, but they have already been coming down due to earlier checkpoint closures.

She also said the government is shutting down the Ocean and Kai Tak cruise terminals. Around 3,600 people are currently being held on a ship at Kai Tak over fears some of them may have caught the new virus.

The SAR government has been facing rising pressure to control the number of arrivals from the mainland, with hospital staff going on strike to demand a total border shutdown.

The authorities did close most of the border crossings, but kept Shenzhen Bay open, as well as the airport and bridge to Macau and Zhuhai.

Lam again insisted that totally sealing the border is not possible, citing a need for food supplies to be brought into the SAR. She said the earlier closures had already proved successful in reducing the number of cross-border travellers.

She announced that the government will set up a HK$10 billion fund to fight the virus, with details on this to come.

She said some of the money could be used to help businesses affected by the epidemic and the government is studying ways to help workers and employers who are affected by the mandatory quarantines.