Preparations were in full swing on Thursday for the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the inauguration of the incoming John Lee administration.
Roads surrounding the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, where the festivities will be held on Friday, have been closed off in a police security operation to ensure the safety of President Xi Jinping if he were to attend the ceremony in person.
A flag-raising ceremony will be held at Golden Bauhinia Square at 8am, with the police band to perform, before a ceremonial fly-past and sea parade is conducted by the disciplined services. The area will be designated a restricted zone by the police. Only holders of valid passes will be allowed entry.
Guests to the ceremony are required to observe strict Covid-19 control measures days ahead of time, including repeated PCR tests for the virus and a mandatory stay at a quarantine hotel to mitigate infection risks.
Lawmaker Wong Kwok from the Federation of Trade Unions told an RTHK programme he has been in a ‘closed loop’ for the past week, taking PCR tests daily and avoiding public activities.
After checking into his quarantine hotel, he has stayed put, taking delivered meals in his room.
But he urged the authorities to learn some lessons from what he described as ‘chaotic’ arrangements that have left some of his party-mates unable to attend Friday’s ceremony.
Wong explained that some of his colleagues did not receive invitations until Monday – days after they were supposed to have started taking daily PCR tests.
Lawmaker Edward Leung from the DAB, meanwhile, said one of his colleagues nearly didn’t make it to his quarantine hotel on time as he had only been asked to do so at the last minute.
Both lawmakers also welcomed the news that mainland authorities have shortened the quarantine period for incoming travellers to a week in centralised facilities followed by three days at home.
Wong said he hopes there will be more quarantine hotels on the mainland to cope with rising demand.
Leung, meanwhile, proposed that Hong Kong people heading to the mainland can be allowed to pre-emptively quarantine themselves here first, before they travel.
He said quarantine facilities in Kai Tak and Penny's Bay could be used for this purpose.