- Exco members suggest allowing for travellers to head to mainland China on smaller-scale basis, to meet workforce and enterprise associates
- New administration could push Hong Kong’s scenario all through border reopening talks by emphasising secure streak of hospitalisation and serious conditions, advisers say
Hong Kong must aim for a quarantine-cost-free business enterprise travel corridor as a precursor to a whole-scale reopening of its borders, as the city’s reconnection with mainland China and other components of the earth is rated high between Beijing’s priorities, authorities advisers have mentioned.
To reach that, the incoming administration under Main Executive-designate John Lee Ka-chiu should really battle for much more flexible rules in the course of negotiations on border reopening, analysts and medical specialists extra.
The Point out Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Business (HKMAO) on Sunday laid out 5 anticipations for Lee’s team, such as tackling pressing concerns these types of as border reopening and strengthening the city’s part as “an international hub connecting the mainland and the world”.
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In response, Government Council associates Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung proposed on Monday that Hong Kong allow a quarantine-no cost journey corridor for businessmen to head to mainland China on a little-scale foundation.
Travellers could be necessary to use smartphone applications with make contact with-tracing functions, these as Guangdong province’s overall health code, she extra, for “convergence with their method”.
Ip, tipped to develop into convenor of Exco’s non-official users underneath Lee’s administration, also mentioned she thought senior officers would broaden the floor policies in upcoming talks and not only aim on everyday caseloads as the major conditions for negotiation.
Incoming overall health minister Lo Chung-mau experienced on Sunday explained not all mainland policies, these types of as common screening, could be promptly copied by Hong Kong and any coverage improvements would be centered on scientific information and require further more examine by numerous departments.
“Of system you search at the daily infection quantities,” Ip reported. “But [officials from both sides] would also appear at the hospitalisation figures, how quite a few vital circumstances there are, the age of patients in the intensive care unit … and the total vaccination charge in Hong Kong.
“Governments about the globe are seeking to protect against their general public well being techniques from collapsing … and Hong Kong must keep away from exporting hazards to the mainland.”
Lee had, in his capability as Hong Kong’s No 2 formal, negotiated with mainland authorities final calendar year on steadily reopening the border, dependent on the basic principle that the metropolis could obtain zero community bacterial infections.
Ip’s views have been echoed by governing administration professional medical adviser David Hui Shu-cheong, who mentioned the new administration could push Hong Kong’s case during border reopening talks by emphasising a secure streak of hospitalisation and serious scenarios.
“There is no possibility to commence on last year’s dialogue foundation as the prerequisite at the time was zero Covid and we have above 1,000 neighborhood circumstances every day now. But an prospect could come up when China shifts its nationwide policy as it also had expert a massive Omicron outbreak like Hong Kong,” he reported, referring to the Covid-19 crisis in Shanghai.
Hong Kong recorded 1,327 Covid-19 scenarios on Monday, like 141 imported bacterial infections.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the semi-official Chinese Affiliation of Hong Kong and Macau Studies assume tank, claimed he thought Beijing was far more anxious about Hong Kong putting the epidemic situation beneath handle, as it was a necessary condition for reopening its borders to the mainland and the relaxation of the globe.
“The HKMAO is listing border reopening as one particular of the priorities, this suggests that Beijing also needs this to be done to raise John Lee’s recognition and authority,” he reported.
Lau also proposed that the notion of zero Covid experienced turn into far more of a description of mainland authorities’ route and expectation, rather than a rigid numerical aim that towns these as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing had to achieve.
“Beijing understands that for Hong Kong to continue being linked with the rest of the globe, it has to be presented some versatility, and mainland vacation could start off from small-scale [initiatives or schemes],” he added.
An instance of a “compact-scale” initiative could be to problem up to 1,000 “issue-to-point” small business visas for Hongkongers to vacation to mainland provinces, these types of as Guangdong, to satisfy their staff and business enterprise associates, Exco member Lam said.
“If you have a business or factory to go to, a contract to indicator or a enterprise cooperation to discuss, you have to have to specify the site that you want to go,” the company sector lawmaker claimed.
The business enterprise visa need to be rolled out very first and Hong Kong’s seven-day quarantine need for intercontinental arrivals could be steadily calm to three or four times if the everyday caseload of imported situations dropped to a low two-digit figure, Lam added.
Ip reported, however, that she believed the 7-day quarantine rule could stay “until eventually the stop of 2022 or early 2023”, irrespective of the city getting rid of expats and tourism to regional rivals this sort of as Singapore.
Allan Zeman, chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong Group, suggested Hong Kong attract knowledge from Thailand, exactly where global travellers can stay in a lodge for one particular night though waiting around for a destructive PCR exam result just before getting launched. One more PCR test could also be carried out in the community 5 days immediately after leaving the resort, he included.
“For the worldwide reopening, maybe we have to [take a leaf from] what other nations have finished if we want to engage in it risk-free,” Zeman said.
But he acknowledged the mainland would not want to open its borders immediately and claimed he supported shut-loop or travel bubble preparations that could be slowly eased as a compromise.
“I can not think about China is heading to open up up for everything now, they will be cautious until finally Oct due to the fact of the [coming] celebration congress,” he reported. “It is really up to China to have their principles and see what works for them, but I can only say we can be inventive as nicely.”
Hui mentioned he thought the town had fulfilled other requirements, such as launching a possibility-publicity wellness code, laid out by mainland authorities at final year’s talks.
But Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, an additional authorities adviser and a top microbiologist at the College of Hong Kong, pointed out mainland authorities could demand from customers much more than just the lowering of caseloads in renewed talks concerning both of those sides.
He cited the city’s constrained potential to call, trace and isolate as opposed to the mainland’s systematic and efficient solution to containing outbreaks as a stark distinction that could show problematic. “Hence their requirement of opening the border is substantially more stringent,” he mentioned.
Independently, Worldwide Air Transportation Association (IATA) director typical Willie Walsh warned that Hong Kong’s travel constraints intended the city’s airport was dealing with growing opposition from other hubs.
“I feel it is really very crucial for Hong Kong, … for the airport to reopen without having limitations so that it can preserve its position as a global hub airport,” Walsh explained to the media at the IATA’s yearly basic meeting in Doha.
“The for a longer time Hong Kong operates with substantial limitations, the extra structural hurt will be completed to the hub.”
Walsh warned that with “each day that passes”, there was an rising possibility of Hong Kong “not staying on the agenda” for numerous airlines who would glimpse to other regions in its place.
Additional reporting by Laura Westbrook
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