Talks on resuming quarantine-free travel between HK, mainland go well; circuit-breaker mechanism a key issue to be resolved: Lam
Published: Nov 09, 2021 05:12 PM
Carrie Lam File Photo:Xinhua

Carrie Lam File Photo:Xinhua

Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, said at a press conference on Tuesday morning that Hong Kong and the mainland are discussing details about quarantine-free border reopening, which has not been affected by the resurgence of COVID-19 outbreaks in the mainland. 

It is also important to properly define when to launch the circuit-breaker mechanism if new COVID-19 cases emerge, she said. 

As Hong Kong has seen zero new infection for a while, Lam said local authorities will continue talking with the mainland on the matter, and the two sides have briefed each otherlast week. She hoped that such discussion will advance and more details will be talked on the border reopening mechanism. 

The land border of Hong Kong with the mainland will reopen fully to quarantine-free travel by June at the latest, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday, citing official sources. And the full border reopening could happen earlier than June if all goes smoothly, which would cap a three-step plan starting in mid-December, the media report said. 

It's a hard worn situation in Hong Kong that has cleared the infections so far, Lam said, noting that the discussion about reopening the border with the mainland has not been affected by the sporadic outbreaks in the mainland. Hong Kong will continue increasing the vaccine inoculation rate, she added. 

The circuit-breaker mechanism remains the key issue, which needs to be further discussed with the mainland, Lam said, noting that she hopes the suspension mechanism is not too strict. It involves issues including under what circumstance (the number of confirmed cases) the circuit-breaker mechanism can be triggered, she said. 

According to Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, a member to the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the plan of the border reopening is likely to be released in early December. 

If new domestically transmitted cases reappear, the plan has to be halted immediately, he told the Global Times Tuesday. 

Lam also said at a forum on Friday that she hoped the mainland and Hong Kong would see certain scale of quarantine-free travel by February next year though there are two schemes -- the Return2hk and the Come2hk programs - currently in place that allow limited forms of quarantine-free travel. 

"Hong Kong and the mainland need to work on the details of reopening the border this month," Wong said.