Hong Kong recently reported two imported cases of the newly discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19. The news came just days after officials met to discuss opening the border between Hong Kong and mainland China to travel without quarantine.
As a result of these new cases, people who have traveled for 21 days in South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe are banned from entering the Special Administrative Region. (Hong Kong SAR), as reported China daily.
Omicron was declared a “worrying variant” of the World Health Organization. However, the transmissibility of the variant, disease severity, and vaccine resistance remain uncertain at the time of publication.
No date has yet been set for non-quarantine travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam previously said the border would not open until December 19, 2021, the date of the SAR Legislative Council elections, as reported Bloomberg.
SAR Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) public service broadcaster reported that Chief Secretary John Lee spoke with officials from the Chinese mainland on Thursday, November 25, about the reopening of the border.
Lee said scanning health QR codes, similar to those used on mainland China, would be a condition of travel without quarantine. The code is said to be part of Hong Kong‘s current track and trace program known as LeaveHomeSafe.
A number of governments around the world have imposed new border restrictions as a result of the Omicron variant. World time reported that “experts” believe the new variant could derail the planned reopening of the border between Hong Kong and the mainland, but have not released any further details.
Hong Kong‘s borders have remained largely closed to international travelers since the start of the pandemic. Travel between Hong Kong and mainland China has also been severely restricted, with most travelers required to undergo a quarantine upon arrival on either side of the border.
A notable exception have been residents of Hong Kong who live on the Chinese mainland and apply to be part of the daily quota before returning to the SAR.
READ MORE: Hong Kong exempts residents of mainland China from quarantine
The easing of border restrictions will be a long-awaited relief for many people with work and family interests in the Grande Baie region.
Ken, who asked that we only use his English name, said It is that he had not traveled to Hong Kong from his hometown of Guangdong since before the COVID-19 outbreak; Originally from Zhaoqing City, he traveled regularly to the SAR to run his business importing health and beauty products, among others, from Europe.
He said he will definitely travel to Hong Kong once border restrictions are relaxed.
It remains to be seen whether Omicron will defeat plans to reopen the border. Expecting the unexpected seems to have become the norm with COVID-19.
[Cover image via Pixabay]