The victimized Hong Kong travellers

January 04, 2023 10:46
Photo: Reuters

Travel or not travel – that is the question.

Yes, the border is open for inbound travellers to Hong Kong with all restrictions lifted. Yet there are restrictions to be imposed on the outbound travellers from Hong Kong.

A dozen of countries imposed a new requirement for Hongkongers to show proof of their predeparture negative PCR results starting from Saturday due to the increasing number of infections and deaths.

That followed Japan’s decision last week to restrict passenger flights from Hong Kong to land only at four designated airports – excluding Hongkongers’ favourite destinations-Hokkaido and Fukuoka. The new arrangement is said to affect over 60,000 Hong Kong passengers.

A number of countries quickly followed suit to impose testing requirements, as China’s move to open up travel sparks concern over spread of new Covid variants.

Some, like Taiwan are taking it a bit further, requiring mainlanders transiting via Hong Kong and Macau to present before departure a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours, starting this Friday.

Others, such as United Kingdom require from Sunday a voluntary test for Chinese arriving at Heathrow Airport.

Against all these, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning slammed the restrictions on mainland travelers as being unacceptable and warned that countermeasures may be taken based on the principle of reciprocity.
Joining the chorus is Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki, who called it unnecessary and inappropriate for countries to impose stricter Covid test requirements for travelers from the SAR.

Well, it is only a test, something Hongkongers should be familiar with, given the city’s stringent Covid measures until recently.

After all, it is nothing compared to the hotel quarantine China and Hong Kong had imposed for more than two years until just two months ago.

Yet it broke the hearts of many Hong Kong travellers who long to spend their vacation savings, only to find out that they are treated same as mainland Chinese tourists by the rest of the world.

There is also nothing they can do to stop mainland tourists from travelling to Hong Kong – and elsewhere too - now that they are free to travel.

That is perhaps why people are rushing to get the fourth jab and buy up painkillers ahead of the mainlanders’ arrival. Some even took holidays at the beginning of the year to enjoy the last quiet moment.

The gate for travel is open. But there are more things to consider. Welcome to the new normal.

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EJ Insight writer