February 1, 2023
HONG KONG – Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Tuesday that he is confident of a full boundary reopening with the Chinese mainland “very soon”, as the city gets ready to make a comeback by highlighting its advantages to the world.
Lee said the full resumption of normal travel between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the mainland will be realized soon with further measures, including the removal of the daily travel quota, currently capped at about 75,000 daily each way, and the requirement for travelers to produce a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours before departure.
More land checkpoints will also resume operations, boosting the flow of cross-boundary travelers who now use seven land, sea, air and bridge control points.
“I am confident that soon we will have full resumption of quarantine-free travel across the boundary and I hope to be able to announce the good news soon. That would include removing the PCR test requirement and removing the quota arrangement and so on,” Lee said in a press briefing before the weekly Executive Council meeting.
He said the government’s goal in 2023 was to lead Hong Kong out of the coronavirus pandemic, focus on economic development and promote Hong Kong comprehensively to the mainland and the rest of the world.
I am confident that soon we will have full resumption of quarantine-free travel across the boundary and I hope to be able to announce the good news soon. That would include removing the PCR test requirement and removing the quota arrangement and so on.
John Lee Ka-chiu, Chief Executive
The border checkpoints had been operating in a safe and orderly manner, said Lee, adding that from Jan 8-30, about 700,000 people traveled northbound while about 600,000 people visited Hong Kong.
Asked when the government would drop the mask mandate, Lee said it would take it into serious consideration after the peak of the winter influenza.
Regarding reports that some private doctors had rejected COVID-19 patients’ consultations after the cancellation of isolation orders on Monday, Lee said the Health Bureau would keep an eye on the situation during the transition period.
He also disagreed with proposals for an independent inquiry of the city’s pandemic policies in the last three years.
“Governments around the world have made instant arrangements to fight the virus depending on the situation. There are no commonly accepted standard measures and proposals,” Lee said.
The government has agreed that it needed to review the city’s anti-pandemic experience to ensure it can manage new risks in the future, said Lee.
“As we are working to return to normalcy, we will summarize our experience and adopt effective measures we have implemented into our regular guidelines,” the chief executive said.
‘Hello! Hong Kong’
Meanwhile, the government is going to focus on developing Hong Kong’s economy and promote the city to the rest of the world.
“We will hold a launch ceremony two days later to introduce key events in Hong Kong, including a large-scale promotional campaign themed ‘Hello! Hong Kong’,” Lee said.
The government will also organize business trips to the mainland and overseas countries to facilitate trade and cultural exchanges, he added.