Travelers arriving in Hong Kong from China and Macau will no longer need to quarantine, Hong Kong’s top official said today, easing curbs imposed after summer outbreaks of the coronavirus on the mainland.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced in a news conference that those who have not traveled to medium- or high-risk areas on the mainland or Macau can enter the city, capped at 2,000 travelers daily starting from next Wednesday, September 15.
The strategy is Hong Kong’s Come2hk scheme that was launched mid-May as part of the measures designed “to gradually resume the cross-boundary flow of people amongst Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau in an orderly manner,” as initially announced.
Travelers will still need a negative Covid-19 test prior to arrival and must take several tests while in Hong Kong to ensure they are not infected.
Back in August, Hong Kong halted quarantine-free travel and imposed a mandatory quarantine period of seven or 14 days, depending on the traveler’s vaccination status.
Thus Lam said the scheme had been put on hold because of the “fluctuating” pandemic situation in Hong Kong and on the mainland.
However, Hong Kong’s “zero-Covid” strategy has seen authorities impose strict border restrictions and ban flights from extremely high-risk countries, in the hopes that no local community spread would allow it to reopen borders with mainland China.
“We have safely passed the virus incubation period and can say that we have achieved zero infections,” Lam said.
With the Come2hk scheme, mainland and local residents will be able to enter the city without quarantine via the Shenzhen Bay port and via the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge, capped at 1,000 visitors each.
Meanwhile, the top official also announced that the government will resume the Return2hk scheme on Wednesday after it was also suspended in early August.
On November 23, the HKSAR government implemented this scheme in a bid to ease travel restrictions for Hong Kong residents returning to the city from Guangdong Province and Macau by welcoming them back without a compulsory quarantine.