People wearing facemasks look at decorations for sale in Hong Kong on Jan 12, 2023 ahead of the Lunar New Year. (ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said he is hopeful that all anti-pandemic measures, including the mask mandate, will be lifted this year to meet the public's expectations of a full return to normal daily life.
In a Tuesday article published in Hong Kong Commercial Daily, Lee said that he expects “all the problems” to be resolved in the first quarter of this year.
The first phase of quarantine-free travel resumption between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland was safe, orderly and smooth, which was in line with his expectations, Lee said.
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said the Hong Kong SAR government was in close contact with the central government and Guangdong province every day and hopes that travel resumption can enter its second phase as soon as possible to meet the public's demands
Since Jan 8, 60,000 people per day have been allowed to travel to and from Hong Kong and the mainland via seven control points without having to undergo a period in quarantine. The cross-border high-speed railway service also resumed on Jan 15.
He said the Hong Kong SAR government was in close contact with the central government and Guangdong province every day and hopes that travel resumption can enter its second phase as soon as possible to meet the public's demands.
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Many requests from various sectors have been taken into account. “I’m sure that the second-phase resumption arrangements will not let the public down, and will offer some additional surprises,” Lee said.
In addition to serving the needs of 7 million Hong Kong residents, he also has a responsibility for the needs of the international community and the mainland authorities, Lee said, adding that returning to full normalcy remains his goal.
People wearing facemasks choose flowers at the Victoria Park market for home decorations in Hong Kong on Jan 16, 2023 ahead of the Lunar New Year. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)
Related decisions should be made pragmatically, with consideration to the data, risks, and also the potential costs to the local medical system, he said.
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Lee also revealed that the government is planning to launch a promotional exercise on the mainland and overseas in February. He and other Hong Kong officials will travel to a number of places to tell a good Hong Kong story. The first overseas destination is expected to be in the Middle East.