Health Secretary Lo Chung-Mau on Friday stressed that Hong Kong must keep in place its vaccine pass system and LeaveHomeSafe app requirement, saying the SAR can't just blindly copy Beijing's management of the pandemic.
Lo made the remarks at a Legislative Council panel meeting after mainland authorities on Wednesday announced a loosening of Covid-19 restrictions, such as no longer requiring people to show a green health code to enter public buildings and spaces, except hospitals and schools.
He also told lawmakers that resuming quarantine-free travel with the mainland is "not a topic of discussion right now".
Pressed by several lawmakers on whether there's any need to keep LeaveHomeSafe now, the minister said the app and the vaccine pass scheme "have always been useful" in the city's anti-epidemic measures, and adjustments would be considered when "the situation calls for it".
"We do have alignments with the mainland, but we would not simply follow every measure adopted by the mainland, or vice versa. Every place has its own anti-epidemic policies. Even with the announcement of the 10 new measures on the mainland, you have to understand that in terms of our policy, we are not following it blindly," he said.
"We have to consider our own situation independently."
The minister noted that the mainland is only adjusting management of its local Covid situation.
"The mainland still adopts a '5+3' quarantine arrangement for inbound travellers. Hong Kong travellers are also subject to this requirement," Lo said, pointing to the five days of centralised quarantine and a further three days of home isolation.
But he said the daily quota for Shenzhen quarantine hotels has doubled to 2,000.
On the idea of pre-departure quarantine arrangements, where travellers would isolate at designated facilities in Hong Kong before heading across the border, Lo said: "It depends on whether the standard is aligned with the quarantine arrangements in the mainland. Now the arrangements of the policies are changing on the mainland side, so we would continue discussions with the mainland counterparts."
"We will try to make pre-departure quarantine happen, and we will try to enhance the number of quota places further. But it seems the latter will be faster," he added.