Financial chief: 'travel bubbles' can revive economy - RTHK
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Financial chief: 'travel bubbles' can revive economy

2020-08-02 HKT 12:46
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  • The coronavirus pandemic has left Hong Kong's economy struggling into the third quarter. File photo: Reuters
    The coronavirus pandemic has left Hong Kong's economy struggling into the third quarter. File photo: Reuters
Financial Secretary Paul Chan says Hong Kong needs to get its upsurge in coronavirus cases under control or face more economic pain in the third quarter of the year.

Writing on his official blog on Sunday, the minister said the SAR could accelerate its recovery if it brought Covid-19 under control and arranged a so-called "travel bubble", allowing people who'd tested negative for the virus to go to the mainland and Macau, and vice-versa.

"This will allow us to resume our business activities as quickly as possible, and help tourism, retail, catering and other industries and related employees increase their income," he wrote.

He said the arrangement could be extended to other parts of the Asia-Pacific region if it proves successful.

He said the government was continuing to look at ways to support the economy, but added: "Financial resources are always limited, and endless government assistance and relief cannot be a long-term option, let alone a solution to the problem."

The administration has issued handouts of HK$10,000 to all adult permanent residents, as well as billions of dollars in support for employers

"Faced with the pandemic of the century, any response is not easy and may even be controversial," he wrote. "The decision to postpone the general election of the Legislative Council is one example.

"However, epidemic control and prevention are difficult but very important things, which concern the health and lives of citizens. Any work that is conducive to epidemic control and epidemic prevention should not be hindered by differing opinions and political disputes."

Hong Kong's economy contracted by 9 percent in the second quarter of this year, continuing a deep recession. Chan pointed out that the mainland economy had rebounded in the second quarter, with growth of 3.2 percent, while most major western economies had contracted.