Pro-government politicians on Friday backed the administration’s plans to widen quarantine exemptions for people travelling into Hong Kong from the mainland – including non-residents.
Currently, Hong Kong residents returning from Macau or Guangdong are exempt from undergoing quarantine under the “Return2HK” scheme, which requires them to have tested negative for Covid-19 and register in advance with the government.
Up to 5,000 residents are able to return under the scheme each day – 3,000 through the Shenzhen Bay Port and 2,000 via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port.
But Chief Executive Carrie Lam revealed at a Legco question and answer session on Thursday that the government is looking into widening the exemption to cover other parts of the mainland. She also said the exemptions may even include mainland residents.
Speaking on a radio show, Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien said the mainland is a low-risk area, and the current scheme's limited scope is simply ridiculous.
He said the exemption should cover Hong Kong people living anywhere in the mainland, but he suggested the government consider requiring people to be vaccinated before their trip.
Tien said mainland residents should also be allowed to come to Hong Kong, as there is no difference between mainlanders and SAR residents who have been vaccinated.
Speaking on the same show, Tsang Chi-man from the Federation of Trade Unions said that after the Chief Executive’s announcement on Thursday they had received many inquiries from Hongkongers living in Fujian and Xiamen.
Tsang said the current scheme's limited scope has caused many problems. She said, for example, people had been unable to return because of deaths in their family and others had been unable to handle paperwork in Hong Kong when they are allocated public housing.
Meanwhile, tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said expanding the scheme can benefit those who come here for business or family matters.
But he said this would do little to boost local tourism, due to the scheme's limited quota and the need for quarantine upon returning to the mainland.