According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Beijing has given final approval for dropping its hard border with Hong Kong. This allows fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents to travel without quarantine to Guangdong Province or Macau.
New Travel Rules Coming Soon
After Hong Kong’s legislative elections on December 19, the scheme will go into effect. However, there are some requirements. These include the use of a new Hong Kong Health Code system. This system will be compatible with the ones used in Guangdong or Macau and a similar traffic light system. Only people with a “green,” valid health code will be permitted to cross the border.
To be eligible, participants must have used Hong Kong’s “Leave Home Safe” risk-exposure app at least three weeks before they travel. This will allow the app to collect enough data. The data will not be sent to the mainland authorities unless the individual is positive for COVID-19 or if they are identified as close contacts, which is a directive to ease privacy concerns.
Despite the SCMP report’s existence, no official statement has been made by the governments of Macau, Hong Kong, or China mainland. However, Hong Kong confirmed that the registration system for the “Hong Kong Health Code” was being launched today, Friday, December 10. It will “allow the public to familiarize itself with its functions earlier in order to facilitate a smoother operation once quarantine-free travel with Macau and the Mainland is officially resumed.”
Macau Ready to Follow Suit
Macau’s Health Bureau held a press conference on Thursday afternoon. It also said that although quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong, mainland China, and Macau has yet to be approved, priority would likely go to those with immediate needs such as visiting family or sick relatives.
According to the agency, authorities are working on a mechanism that will allow for mutual recognition of vaccination records as well as NAT results with Hong Kong.
On Thursday, Trip.com founder and Chairman James Liang spoke at the 2021 Global Partner Summit in Macau. He stated that he expected the Hong Kong-China border to open next week. However, he also suggested that China could reopen the borders to the rest of the world within six months if the COVID-19 regional situation continues to improve.