Chief Executive Carrie Lam says Hong Kong officials will meet mainland counterparts in Shenzhen on Thursday to discuss anti-epidemic work in the SAR in preparation for quarantine-free travel across the border.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said the Hong Kong delegation will be led by Chief Secretary John Lee.
Authorities from the two sides have already met once in person and another time online, and a team of mainland experts are currently conducting a four-day visit to Hong Kong.
Lam thanked the central government for sending the experts to inspect the SAR’s facilities, noting they had visited places including border checkpoints, quarantine camps and hotels, and looked at how contact-tracing is being carried out.
“I’ve learned that during their visit, the experts have asked about details of our anti-epidemic work. The expert team’s visit to Hong Kong is the key to reopening the border gradually and orderly as soon as possible,” Lam said.
She said a mechanism will be put in place to suspend quarantine-free travel if there’s an outbreak on either side of the border, but details have yet to be decided.
Authorities are also discussing how to introduce a health code system for Hong Kong residents travelling to the mainland, Lam said.
Reports said quarantine-free travel to the mainland may be allowed from next month, but Lam said no date has been fixed yet.
The CE added that Hong Kong's vaccination rate against Covid-19 must rise significantly to create the right conditions for opening the borders – not only to the mainland but the rest of the world.
She again called on people to get vaccinated, noting that less than 70 percent of the eligible population has received a first dose of Covid vaccine.