The first batch of visitors arrives at Huanggang port after leaving Hong Kong in Shenzhen on Feb 6, 2023. (PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government will discuss with Chinese mainland authorities the possible scrapping of the requirement for northbound travelers to report their health status at Hong Kong checkpoints, Acting Chief Executive Eric Chan Kwok-ki said on Tuesday.
Travelers are required to make a health declaration and receive a "black code" before crossing the boundary to the mainland, as the two sides resumed full cross-border travel on Monday for the first time in three years.
“We will talk to the mainland authorities to see if we can enhance or even cancel this arrangement,” Chan said ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting.
The government understood that the arrangement might not be convenient for elderly people and it had deployed a lot of staff, especially at the Lo Wu port, to help them and those who do not know how to use mobile phones to complete health declarations, Chan said.
The purpose of the arrangement was to help travelers complete the procedures before going over to the mainland, Chan said.
The government understood that the arrangement of reporting health status at Hong Kong checkpoints might not be convenient for elderly people and it had deployed a lot of staff, especially at the Lo Wu port, to help them and those who do not know how to use mobile phones to complete health declarations, said Acting Chief Executive Eric Chan Kwok-ki
”Such arrangement was implemented smoothly and we spent about two to three minutes helping each elderly person complete the forms to make the immigration clearance easier for them,” Chan said.
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The government had also publicized the arrangement for travelers, Chan added, urging those who will visit the mainland to observe this requirement and fill out the declaration form beforehand.
Residents could also seek help from the port staff members if they have more questions about the requirement, Chan added.
Urge support for light public housing
Meanwhile, Chan reiterated that the government will borrow lands for five years for the development of light public housing, which was temporary in nature, adding that it will return the site afterwards for its originally intended purposes.
"In our plan, in the next decade, there should be sufficient supply of public housing to meet the demand. However, there is time for construction and some sites might not be available for use." Chan said.
"In the first five-year period, we will see few completed housing units. Given this situation, the government would like to address the housing needs of the public sooner," he added.
The LPH project could help solve the city’s housing problem, Chan said, adding that grassroots community members living subdivided flats need government assistance, so it will make every effort to help them.
“I hope members of the public and the Legislative Council will appreciate this. Please give us support for the light public housing project. This is a major project for the community,” Chan said.
He added that 30,000 LPH units might help house about 100,000 people in a few years.
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The Housing Bureau will continue to explain the LPH project and the government will act fast to meet residents’ housing needs, he said.