Hong Kong is looking to establish a ‘travel bubble’ with Australia and ten other countries.
The Asian financial hub on the doorstep of China, was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic after a second wave of cases ravaged the former British colony in July and August.
But in the past few weeks Hong Kong has only recorded a handful of new infections and is now planning to lift it’s travel restrictions – with Australia and New Zealand at the top of the list.
Hong Kong is looking to establish a ‘travel bubble’ with Australia and ten other countries
The Asian financial hub on the doorstep of China, was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic after a second wave of cases ravaged the former British colony in July and August
Edward Yau Tang-wah, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development said at a media conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday, the plan would be require travellers to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival and departure.
‘We need to ensure that a coronavirus test – that is mutually recognised – can be carried out before travelling, and another verification is needed after arrival,’ according the South China Morning Post.
‘Our health authorities would then proceed to further discussion with those countries.’
As well as Australia and New Zealand, other nations being considered are Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Mr Yau said countries where the spread of the virus is ‘under better control’ are the top priority.
‘These are places with which we have made initial contact, but whether travel bubbles can be established… would depend on a host of factors, including the epidemic situation and its containment in respective places,’ he said.
‘Of course the timetable will be a matter of bilateral agreement between Hong Kong and partnering countries.
‘It all depends on how ready and comfortable both parties are with the situation.’
In the past few weeks Hong Kong has only recorded a handful of new COVID-19 infections
Edward Yau Tang-wah, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development said at a media conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday, the plan would be require travellers to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival and departure
But despite the positive news, Yau Tang-wah said the implementation of such a scheme is still a long way off.
‘I shouldn’t give members of the community a false illusion that [the travel bubbles] could be done within days,’ he said.
‘The situation remains fluid and could change depending on circumstances.’
But whether Australia and other nation’s take up Hong Kong on the offer is another story.
The federal government still has a ban on international tourism both inbound and out.
On top of this, Hong Kong’s new national security laws introduced in July by Beijing to silence pro-democracy advocates has left relations with Canberra extremely frosty.
Anti-government protests have flared up on the streets of Hong Kong again after weeks of relative calm since the implementation of a sweeping security law. Police detain people as they patrol the area after protesters called for a rally in Hong Kong on September 6
Riot police arrest a man during an anti-government protest on September 6 in Hong Kong
Riot police put up an warning flag during an anti-government protest on September 6, 2020 in Hong Kong. Nearly 300 people were arrested during the protest against the government’s decision to postpone the legislative council election and the new national security law
Riot police disperse pro-democracy protesters during a demonstration in Hong Kong Sunday
As a result, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has warned Australian citizens to ‘reconsider’ visiting and remaining in Hong Kong.
‘The new national security legislation for Hong Kong could be interpreted broadly,’ DFAT’s Smart traveller website states.
‘Under the law, you could be deported or face possible transfer to mainland China for prosecution under mainland law.
‘You may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds.
‘If you’re concerned about the new law, reconsider your need to remain in Hong Kong.’
Hong Kongers are pictured entering the Tai Hing Sports Centre where COVID-19 tests is being carried out
Passengers arrive at Sydney International Airport after getting off a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong on August 23, 2020