A delegation from the Hong Kong government met with Chinese officials on Sunday to discuss the possibility of resuming separate trips between the city and the mainland.
The group was led by John Lee, chief secretary of the Hong Kong administration, and also included the city’s food and health secretary and members of the government’s scientific advisory team.
A statement issued by the Hong Kong government on Sunday evening said the delegation was organized by the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Offices of China and held in Shenzhen.
The statement said that the deputy director of the office, Huang Liquan, “took seriously” the request of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam for separate trips to the mainland, but did not elaborate on when or how it might resume.
The Hong Kong government has re-introduced the mainland, which is a major source of tourism and retail income, a priority. It has avoided reopening international borders for a strict zero-cove strategy, which it hopes will persuade mainland authorities to reopen its borders for those arriving from the city.
Hong Kong’s travel and segregation system, some of the strictest in the world, has kept cases to a minimum, with the city recording a total of more than 12,000 cases since the epidemic began.
Mainland experts attending the meeting acknowledged Hong Kong’s efforts to keep the locally acquired Covid case close to zero. The statement added that the two sides would hold a second meeting as soon as possible to further discuss the “gradual and orderly resumption of quarantine-free travel”.
Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government announced that it would allow 2,000 mainland visitors to enter the city every day without segregation. Arrivals in the city must spend at least 14 days in a designated hotel upon arrival, which will increase to 21 days for arrival from high-risk areas.
Travelers from Hong Kong to mainland must still be in quarantine, which in most cases lasts at least 14 days.