Chief Executive Carrie Lam says Hong Kong is going to scrap most quarantine exemptions, following discussions with mainland health experts aimed at securing a full reopening of the border.
At the moment some travellers from overseas, such as senior finance executives, can avoid quarantine if the government considers their activities to be in the interest of Hong Kong’s economic development.
Speaking to reporters before the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, the CE said the changes planned mean exemptions will only be granted to people providing emergency services or daily necessities to Hong Kong.
"At the beginning of last year, in relation to exempted groups of quarantine-free personnel, most of these will be removed," she said.
"We will only leave those relating to emergency services or services relating to the everyday supplies and logistics of Hong Kong, for example, cross-boundary truck drivers... This is to give confidence to the central authorities that it is safe to open the border."
Addressing concerns that keeping strict quarantine rules will damage Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre, Lam said this is a dilemma, but relaxed measures would make it less likely that the border could be reopened.
She reiterated that the priority is resuming quarantine-free travel with the mainland, saying Hong Kong's primary advantage is being a "gateway" to the rest of China.