Chief Executive says govt working to scrap 48-hour PCR test requirement and daily quota for travel to Mainland and to consider cancelling vaccination and RAT test for international visitors

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31st January 2023 – (Hong Kong) After two weeks of break, the Executive Council resumed its meeting today (31st). Chief Executive John Lee met with reporters before the meeting this morning. National People’s Congress Standing Committee member Tam Yiu-chung said on 29th January that a decision should be made soon to cancel the nucleic acid testing requirements for cross-border travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, and quoted Chief Secretary for Administration Eric Chan as saying that it is estimated that there will be a decision in the next few days.

In addition, the isolation requirement for COVID-19 patients was cancelled yesterday (30th), and now there is only a mask order remaining, and the authorities will consider relaxing it after the winter flu peak.

In response, Lee said today that the next step is to comprehensively promote Hong Kong, and will focus on promoting normalisation measures. The goal is to achieve full border reopening with the Mainland as soon as possible by scrapping the 48-hour nucleic acid testing requirement (PCR) and daily quota. In addition, with regards to cross-border international travel, the government will consider canceling the COVID-19 vaccination and rapid antigen test requirements for visitors to Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the government will also organise a delegation to visit abroad. On 4th February, he will lead a delegation to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to promote Hong Kong culture, business and other advantages.

Lee said he did not agree to establish an independent investigation committee on the government’s decision-making measures to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic. Lee summarised the epidemic measures and follow-up work, saying that an emergency mobilisation mechanism will be established as soon as possible to deal with with large-scale outbreaks.

With regards to disagreeing with the establishment of an independent investigation committee to investigate the effectiveness of the government’s anti-epidemic measures, Lee said that during the new stage of the epidemic, the government must fully promote Hong Kong and deploy to return to normal. He agreed to sum up experience to deal with new risks, and through these 7 months of experience, the government has come up with practical solutions, which he believes to be sufficient can face future challenges.

The government explained that “even if 100 plans are formulated today, there may be a 101st or 102th plan in the future”. In the face of the epidemic, the government must act according to the situation it is facing. Lee feels that the government must implement the key elements and concepts of the system and strategy, including making decisions quickly, implementing accurately, and focusing on results. Therefore, the system has been changed and a command and coordination team has been established by increasing safety factors, such as increased drug storage and manual deployment. After gaining experience, it is necessary to routinise useful measures, and the existing government will continue to accumulate experience, so that the government has better resilience, which is more effective than independent investigations.