HK should allow quarantine-free visit on compassionate ground

November 17, 2021 10:55
Photo: Reuters

One positive effect under the pandemic these days is we have more time to meet up with old friends. But one common thing I discovered from these gatherings is that many friends who work in China returned home because their parents are/were in critical medical conditions.

In almost all cases, they came back to Hong Kong through the Return2HK travel scheme without quarantine. But when they return to China, they have no way but to go through quarantine for two, if not three weeks, depending on the Covid situation in their respective cities.

Now, hopes are high that they can go back to China without quarantine next month.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said there will be a 1,000 such daily quota. The priority would likely be given to people with urgent needs to visit families, attend funerals or conduct business. The initial phase of border reopening will likely be restricted to Guangdong province.

But that begs the question: Why is there no such arrangement to accommodate visitors to Hong Kong?

Australia and Britain, for example, allow quarantine exemptions for individuals on medical or compassionate grounds on a case-by-case basis.

Under the present arrangement, Hong Kong does not provide quarantine-free arrangement to visitors based on compassionate reasons. It is not under the 36 categories of exemptions (Many of these exemptions were suspended from November 12 to prepare for border reopening in December)

Is it fair that Hong Kong people can travel to China without quarantine on compassionate ground but people are not allowed to come to Hong Kong without quarantine for the same reasons?

At the time of writing, one of my London friends who came back for her family funeral is going through three-week quarantine. It ‘s becoming a norm that funeral services are arranged at least three weeks after the death.

But what if the family member involved is in critical health situation? I could imagine it is quite likely that the flying-in visitors will not be able to even pay the last visit to their loved one given the three-week quarantine rule.

Lately I also came to know a terminal cancer patient whose daughters could not afford the three-week quarantine to meet their parent over Christmas because they only have a two-week holiday.

Let’s hope that the Hong Kong leaders would be more accommodative and allow more people to visit Hong Kong for compassionate reasons.

For some people, this is the last thing they hope for and the least the officials can do to help.

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EJ Insight writer