Health chief expected more travellers with mainland, denying '0+0' in short term

The health minister claimed that Hongkongers could enjoy more convenience to enter the mainland as the Chinese government shortened the entry quarantine periods, but noted it is still "not the time" for Hong Kong to lift inbound travel curbs.

The mainland announced on November 11 to reduce the entry quarantine period from ten days to five days of hotel quarantine and three days of home quarantine, a move that Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau touted today that would contribute positively to people commuting between Hong Kong and China.

"We are discussing with the mainland government to grant more quotas of quarantine hotel rooms for Hongkongers to Shenzhen," he said.

In addition, Lo said the relaxation of disease-prevention measures needs to be taken on "step-by-step" when responding to whether curbs-free inbound travel would be allowed after Hong Kong Sevens. He cited that hosting major events could not prove that Hong Kong is well-prepared for full relaxation of Covid rules.

"It is not only one or two events that could decide the government's anti-epidemic policies," he said, "we have to take the overall circumstances into consideration."

"We could see the number of arrivals in Hong Kong has risen by more than three times as authorities have abolished the suspension mechanism of flights and shortened the entry quarantine periods this year," he said.

Lo added that it would also take time to ease Covid rules of "close contact" for the public.

Early this month, the Hospital Authority announced to adjust the back-to-work arrangements for its employees, allowing people who were identified as the "close contact" of a confirmed Covid patient to return to their work on "Day 1" - the second day when being identified, at the earliest.