People who come to Hong Kong from the mainland to study or for business will be exempted from being home-quarantined for 14 days, starting from Wednesday, according to the Hong Kong government.
The decision came after some lawmakers from the business community urged the government to exempt cross-border business people from undergoing 14 days of quarantine.
Sophia Chan, the Secretary for Health, said in a media briefing on Tuesday that cross-border teachers and students, and people whose business activities are “beneficial to Hong Kong,” will be allowed to enter without quarantine as the epidemic situation in Hong Kong and the mainland has improved.
She said the changes to the regulation will be gazetted for the relaxations to become law by midnight.
The government also announced that the quarantine requirement for travelers from the mainland would be extended until June 7 from the original expire day of May 7.
Details about how to define “economic activities beneficial to Hong Kong” are still being worked out by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the Department of Health, she said.
Now, only four types of incoming travelers are exempted from the 14-day quarantine measure. They include those who are necessary for the supply of goods or services required for the normal operation of Hong Kong or the daily needs of the city’s people; necessary for governmental operations; necessary for the protection of the safety or health of the Hong Kong people or handling of the public health emergency; or serving the public interest of Hong Kong in some special cases.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong reported no new coronavirus cases for the third day in a row. The total number of Covid-19 cases recorded in the city stands at 1,037.
Prior to the government’s latest decision to exempt more people from quarantine measures, Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said Hong Kong could reopen its border with the mainland only if it did not record any local infections that had an unknown transmission chain for 14 to 28 days.
On April 19, one local infection was recorded – a 47-year-old Virgin Atlantic ground attendant who had no travel history during the incubation period.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday morning that the government planned to get most civil servants back in their offices next week, while public facilities such as libraries, museums and outdoor sports grounds would reopen.
Civil servants who are now working from home will start going back to the office first, except those at government schools or venues run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, she said.
Lam said people would still need to follow the temporary law limiting public gatherings to no more than four people, and while government meetings would take place as normal, large-scale events such as award ceremonies and banquets cannot be held.