Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu attends a press conference at the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong on Sept 1, 2022. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
Hong Kong residents heading for the Chinese mainland will soon be allowed to complete their mandatory quarantine in Hong Kong before heading north, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Thursday.
The announcement came after Lee met online with high-ranking officials from Guangdong province and reached a preliminary consensus on the issue.
At a media briefing on the arrangement, Lee said the “reverse quarantine” plan is one of the steps the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government is taking to resume the regular flow of people from the city to Shenzhen, while alleviating the burden on hotels on the mainland.
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Under the new program, those heading to Guangdong will be quarantined at facilities in Hong Kong, and then be transported to the mainland under a closed-loop arrangement.
At a media briefing on the arrangement, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said the “reverse quarantine” plan is one of the steps the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government is taking to resume the regular flow of people from the city to Shenzhen, while alleviating the burden on hotels on the mainland
One of the possible facilities is the community isolation and treatment facility in Lok Ma Chau Loop, which has over 10,000 beds, as it was built by the central government for isolation with good conditions for this purpose, Lee said.
All requirements for the quarantine in Hong Kong, including the techniques and standards for COVID-19 virus-testing, will align with those of the mainland, Lee said.
Currently, people in Hong Kong who travel to the mainland need to undergo a seven-day quarantine in a mainland hotel after their arrival, followed by three days of health monitoring at home.
Hong Kong travelers also need to reserve an isolation hotel room before crossing the border, and the room quota has been limited to 2,000 a day.
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Lee also said a task force led by Chief Secretary for Administration Chan Kwok-ki will work closely with the Shenzhen government to implement the arrangement as soon as possible.
He also thanked the authorities of Guangdong and Shenzhen for supporting the proposal.
The online meeting also touched on strengthening the collaboration mechanism between the Hong Kong SAR and Guangdong by establishing 13 task groups in areas such as anti-pandemic controls and cross-boundary travels, the Northern Metropolis plan brought forward by Hong Kong, and innovation and technology.
To deepen cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, the officials also agreed to reshuffle the task groups into 19 groups covering the Qianhai special economic zone, the connectivity of infrastructure, and youth development.
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Lee also thanked the Chinese mainland in its unwavering support of resources and manpower to the city to contain the fifth wave of pandemic.
The meeting was attended by provincial leaders of Guangdong province and municipal leaders of Shenzhen. Chief Secretary Chan Kwok-ki and Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po also attended the meeting, along with five bureau heads of the Hong Kong SAR government.