Hong Kong officials, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam, have denied reports suggesting Macau could be frozen out of an initial travel bubble between Hong Kong and Guangdong Province.
A number of Hong Kong media outlets reported this week that talks were underway between Hong Kong and the mainland to implement mutual recognition of COVID-19 virus tests under their respective health code systems, with Hong Kong currently working on finalizing its own system. Those same reports said Macau would not be part of the scheme.
However, Lam dismissed suggestions a travel bubble could open without Macau, stating she has recently spoken with Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng about the issue. Macau currently has no active cases of COVID-19, having cleared the last of its 45 cases on 19 May.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, confirmed to the Legislative Council that discussions were underway between Hong Kong and Guangdong Province to establish a pilot scheme to “relax cross-boundary flow of people between the two places within certain limits in order to facilitate people who need to travel between Guangdong and Hong Kong.”
Under the scheme, which would likely be subject to a quota, the governments of Guangdong and Hong Kong would mutually recognize COVID-19 test results conducted by designated testing facilities, with the mutual recognition to be done through the “health code” of the two jurisdictions. Exempted persons would not be allowed to have left Hong Kong or Guangdong in the previous 14 days.
Contrary to reports of Macau’s exclusion, Professor Chan added, “The Government is [also] discussing with the Macao SAR Government the arrangement for mutual recognition of virus test results and exemption of cross-border travelers from compulsory quarantine. Details will be separately announced after the discussion has completed.”
The developments come as Taiwan announced this week that it would allow foreigners to apply for entry from 29 June, with specific mention made of both Hong Kong and Macau.
According to Taiwanese media, citizens of the two SARs will be able to apply for entry for a variety of reasons including special humanitarian considerations and emergency assistance, business activities, internal transfers from multinational companies, economic trade or if they hold residence permits as the spouses or children of Taiwanese citizens.
Those exempted must provide a negative COVID-19 test report obtained within three days of boarding their flight to Taiwan.