This picture taken in Hong Kong on June 23, 2022 shows commuters catching the light rail in the Tin Shui Wai district that’s close to the mainland city of Shenzhen. (ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)
Hong Kong communities on Thursday expressed support for the resumption of travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland after the special administrative region government announced that up to 60,000 residents will be allowed to enter the mainland each day starting Sunday.
Announcing the long-awaited cross-boundary travel plan, the government said Hong Kong will reopen four more border points — two land crossings at Lok Ma Chau and Man Kam To and two ferry terminals — China Ferry Terminal and Hong Kong-Macao Ferry Terminal. In total, there will be seven border ports in use starting Sunday, with a total quota of 60,000 Hong Kong residents per day. Hong Kong travelers will no longer need to quarantine to enter the mainland.
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Hong Kong lawmaker Edward Leung Hei said the travel resumption is a response to Hong Kong people’s long-standing desire to return to the mainland for business, family reunions and tourism.
In total, there will be seven border ports in use starting Sunday, with a total quota of 60,000 Hong Kong residents per day. Hong Kong travelers will no longer need to quarantine to enter the mainland
Given that some Hong Kong people may make a round trip to the mainland the same day, Leung suggested that the SAR government allow them to use the same COVID-19 negative test result that they use when leaving the city for their return journey. This would save them from having to do an additional virus test in the mainland, Leung said.
Leung also said it is a safe and orderly practice to set up a daily quota at the beginning. He said he hopes the authorities in Hong Kong and the mainland review the operation of the first phase and optimize measures to achieve a full border reopening as soon as possible.
Also on Thursday, the Society for Community Organization said that the 60,000 daily quota was more than they expected. However, the group said it hopes that the government can still reserve some quotas for passengers who need to cross the border urgently.
Sze Lai-shan, deputy director of SoCo, said the organization has received a lot of inquiries lately on cross-boundary travel and many, including some who need to go to the mainland to check on family members who are sick or to attend funerals, expressed concerns about whether they would get a place via online bookings at the checkpoints. Sze suggested reserving a compassionate quota in the thousands for those in need.
Dennis Ng Wang-pun, permanent honorary president of the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong, said the daily quota is sufficient for Hong Kong residents to return to their hometowns on the mainland and celebrate the Lunar New Year with their friends and relatives. Ng said he expects cross-border travel to resume fully after the Lunar New Year.
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Peter Shiu Ka-fai, lawmaker for the wholesale and retail sector, said he is excited by the news. The resumption of cross-boundary travel could boost the city’s retail sector, especially the jewelry industry, he said.
With about 50,000 people projected to arrive in the SAR each day, this could potentially bring in over 1.5 million visitors to Hong Kong over the next month, which would be a huge help for a retail sector which has suffered so much in the past three years, Shiu said. Many other industries, including transportation and advertising, also stand to benefit from this influx, he added.