Quarantine-free border reopening with mainland to be deferred to end-December, sources

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29th November 2021 – (Hong Kong) It was rumoured earlier that the quarantine-free border reopening that will be implemented in early December has undergone subtle changes, and the border reopening may be postponed until late December before it is expected to start. However, Beijing and the Hong Kong government have unanimously agreed on the issuance of the Hong Kong Health Code. At present, the Hong Kong government is working hard to negotiate the remaining conditions.

First of all, the daily quota will be more than 1,000. It is hoped that the original Hong Kong government’s proposal of 5,000 to 6,000 can be maintained. The implementation date should be before Christmas or New Year’s Eve and the government is committed to give Hong Kong citizens the best festive gift. As for the circuit breaker mechanism, both the mainland authorities and the Hong Kong government both agreed that it will be too rigorous if quarantine-free border reopening is suspended after only one COVID-19 case is detected. However, there is still no consensus and and the relevant mechanism still needs to be determined.

According to sources, the postponement to late December may involve many different reasons. The first is the upcoming Legislative Council election on 19th December. Ballot boxes will be set up at three ports for Hong Kong residents from the Mainland to go to the port polling station for “closed-loop voting”. After voting, they will return to the Mainland without quarantine. If quarantine-free border reopening is implemented early next month, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people may appear at the port on the 19th, once there is an outbreak, the consequences will be uncontrollable.

Another source revealed that the mainland authorities have not made any characterisations on the new variant Omicron, and believe that the existing epidemic disease is still sufficient to deal with various variant viruses, so the Omicron virus is not the main cause. As for other doubts, it is because the HK Health code needs to record at least 14-day whereabouts records before it can take effect. However, the HK Health code has not been launched, so quarantine border reopening cannot be implemented in the first half of next month.

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