06 Oct 2021
Hong Kong’s links with mainland China are more important than global business and international travel links, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday.
When asked whether Hong Kong would align its Covid travel curbs more closely with the mainland, Lam stated: "Of course, international travel is important, international business is important, but by comparison the mainland is more important.”
Lam has been warned by foreign business chambers over Hong Kong’s lengthy quarantine rules for returning travellers, saying they risk ostracising international businesses and driving investment to other locations.
A poll carried out by the American Chamber of Commerce earlier this year revealed 40% of members were contemplating leaving Hong Kong, Bloomberg reports.
Hong Kong is determined to reopen the border with the mainland before re-establishing global connections. Lam’s comments indicate the city will retain the strict travel regulations, despite no local cases in over a month. Returning residents must still spend 21 days in hotel quarantine, even if they are full vaccinated.
Yet, the constantly changing regulations have resulted in travel confusion, leading to mounting frustration among residents and businesses.
Hong Kong’s "Covid zero" strategy is aimed at eradicating local cases via lengthy quarantines for travellers, tracing which results in close contacts being isolated in government facilities and the obligatory hospitalisation of anyone who has the virus, irrespective of whether they have symptoms.
Furthermore, the Chief Executive added that the focus on the mainland border would also be advantageous for international businesses in Hong Kong: "They also have businesses on the mainland, so it is important for them to be able to cross the border to take care of and attend to their businesses. The most important thing is to open the border,” Lam went on to say.