Future Macau/Hong Kong quarantine-free travel arrangement quota system to operate under ‘first-come, first served’ basis

The quota system for an initial quarantine-free cross-border arrangement with Hong Kong would operate under a ‘first-come, first served’ online application system for non-urgent travel, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U said today (Monday).

As many as 3,000 Hong Kong residents a day could be allowed to travel to mainland China under a much-anticipated quarantine-free scheme expected to come into force this week.

The final decision on the border reopening rested with the central government, and would also depend on the latest Covid-19 outbreak situation in neighbouring Guangdong province, which has experienced a recent surge in cases.

Arrivals coming from Hong Kong are still required to carry out a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Macau, with quarantine free travel between the SARs not allowed basically since the pandemic outbreak in 2020.

Speaking today after the ceremony to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the Macau SAR, Elsie Ao noted that once Hong Kong and the Mainland introduce custom clearance arrangements, Hong Kong and Macau would then also have the conditions to advance with their own.

“Those who pass the customs must be vaccinated 14 days after two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and undergo nucleic acid testing. A quota will be set and initially, it is hoped to register online on a first-come, first-served basis. After the trial, if conditions permit, the quota will be gradually increased,” Ao noted.

The number of quotas allowed under the Hong Kong and Macau customs clearance arrangement will be set in a ratio based on the Mainland and Hong Kong customs clearance arrangement quota number.

However, the Secretary indicated that in the beginning a special application system for people in need to carry out urgent matters, including medical issues or funerals, would be set up and urged residents to avoid applying for the system in the beginning if they do not fall under this category.

Concerning if the scheme would be suspended in case any new confirmed Covid-19 case is discovered in Hong Kong Ao only stated this would be evaluated considering the seriousness of the case.