HK, Macau, Guangdong mull easing border restrictions

Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong authorities are in discussions aimed at easing border requirements that would allow residents to be exempted from a 14-day quarantine period when travelling across borders.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam made the disclosure in an interview with the Ta Kung Pao newspaper. She said the first to be exempted were those with a specific reason to travel, without giving details as to what would be considered a valid justification for movement. 

Anyone crossing the border would also need to take a virus test to prove they had not been infected. 

Guangdong province, which is home to about 100 million, accounts for about 50 percent of Macau’s visitation and reopening to travel from this area is likely to kick start the recovery of revenue at the territory’s casinos.

In an AGB webinar held last week, industry experts mooted the idea of creating this kind of “travel bubble” or corridors between areas that are considered as safe as a way of restarting the tourism industry.

Dr Wolfgang Arlt, founder of the China Outbound Tourism Institute, noted that there is still significant demand for travel among the mainland Chinese if a way can be found for them to do so safely.

The real key to kick-starting the industry, however, will be the lifting of restrictions on individual visit schemes within the selected zones. There is no clarity yet as to when that might happen, but the creation of these secure zones is seen as a step towards potential easing.