Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor (pictured in a file photo), told local media on Tuesday that the region was adjusting its entry rules to be “more in line” with those of mainland China, and would end some quarantine exemptions, as part of an effort to get Covid-19 related travel restrictions eased between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Ms Lam said in her Tuesday remarks: “In order to resume some quarantine-free travel with the mainland we have to ensure that our anti-Covid-19 practices are more in line with the mainland practices, so that the mainland authorities will have the level of confidence to enable Hong Kong people to go into the mainland without being subject to the 14-day, plus seven-day quarantine.”
She added: “In the anti-Covid-19 strategy, controlling the import of possible cases is a very important part of that strategy. If Hong Kong were to loosen the border controls for people arriving from overseas or adopt what other countries have done – so-called to live with the Covid-19 virus – then the chances of resuming travel with the mainland will be reduced.”
Macau’s leader, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, said on September 29 that the mainland’s Guangdong province and Hong Kong had been discussing easing of travel restrictions between the two places. Once that happened, Macau’s travel rules with Hong Kong were likely be eased “in tandem”, Mr Ho said at the time.
In July, brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd suggested that pre Covid-19, Hong Kong had delivered 20 percent of Macau’s visitors, and 15 percent to 20 percent of annual casino gross gaming revenue, meaning the Macau casino sector’s access to the Hong Kong market would be a key part of its recovery.
According to Hong Kong media reports, Ms Lam also said on Tuesday that “soon we will… announce that most of the quarantine exemptions granted to specific groups of visitors coming from overseas and the mainland will be cancelled”.
She added that only essential workers such as cross-border truck drivers would be allowed to make quarantine-free trips. Most arrivals to Hong Kong have to undergo either 14 or 21 days of hotel quarantine.
Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection said on Tuesday it was investigating three additional imported Covid-19 cases, two of which involved the “Delta” strain, while the remaining case’s mutation test result was pending.
Among the patients, ranging in age from 28 to 65, two women arrived in Hong Kong from Pakistan via the United Arab Emirates and one man was from Singapore.
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"The resurgence of Covid cases in China is again delaying a market recovery [in Macau] and is a credit negative"
Vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service