Chief Executive John Lee said the government has decided to shorten the seven-day hotel quarantine requirement for inbound travellers, but the Health Bureau and the Hospital Authority have to look at various data before any concrete decisions are made.
Lee made the remark in an interview published in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Monday, adding that easing travel restrictions to the mainland and the rest of the world are not mutually exclusive goals and both should be “pursued in full force”.
On the resumption of quarantine-free travel with the mainland, he said the SAR government cannot focus on its own interests alone. He said Hong Kong has to convince mainland authorities that “you won’t betray my interest, this is very important”.
On whether there's a timetable to resume quarantine-free travel, he said Hong Kong's doors are always open to the world apart from some measures that are in place.
When asked about the impact of quarantine measures on Hong Kong’s economy, Lee said: “That is why I have to connect to the outside... we should not let any bad things happen, we want Hong Kong to fare well, we should strive to make good things happen,” he said.
“This is what I’m doing, I’m only thinking about how to serve Hong Kong.”
Lee said if Hong Kong’s infection numbers continue to rise, it could affect one-third of the city's public healthcare services. He also said that even if the daily tally comes down, social distancing rules could not be relaxed drastically.
“If my messages are not clear, it would not help the anti-epidemic effort. So, I hope whatever we do, we must let the public know we are heading in a clear direction.”