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Policy Address

140. Having assumed office for just over three months, the current-term Government has rolled out a series of precise and risk-based anti-epidemic measures in phases, gradually relaxing our control measures. These include cancelling the route-specific flight suspension mechanism, introducing the Red and Amber Codes for risk-based classification and management, changing the 7-day hotel quarantine arrangement to "3+4" and later "0+3", and relaxing social distancing measures in phases. The "0+3" arrangement, implemented on 26 September, was a major change as it formally put an end to the inbound compulsory quarantine requirement which had been in place for more than two years. Where conditions permit, the Government will enhance various measures in a progressive way, including social distancing measures. We will also devise specific plans to ensure that major events and economic and large-scale activities in Hong Kong can be held smoothly.

141. Resuming connections with the Mainland and the overseas is equally important for Hong Kong and must be pursued in tandem. We are making our best efforts to discuss with the Mainland to strive for resuming normal cross-boundary travel in a gradual and orderly manner, without posing additional epidemic risks to the Mainland. Our first target is to implement "reverse quarantine" in Hong Kong, also known as "pre-departure quarantine". This arrangement will be designed to comply with the "7+3" standard of the Mainland, where Mainland-bound travellers will be put under closed-loop management after undergoing quarantine in Hong Kong. It will avoid the possibility of spilling over the epidemic to the Mainland, and reduce the pressure on quarantine hotels and manpower in the Mainland, providing more certainty for travelling from Hong Kong to the Mainland. Subject to manageable risk level, we are discussing in parallel with the Mainland to increase the compassionate quotas for travelling to Shenzhen, in order to meet the travelling needs of people in the Mainland and Hong Kong.

142. How much longer this anti-epidemic journey will take hinges on a basket of factors. Acting hastily will cause troubles, bringing irreversible risks to society and leading us nowhere. We have to closely monitor the epidemic situation outside Hong Kong, possible risks arising from winter influenza, development of virus variants, the capacity of local healthcare system, etc. The public must follow and comply with the anti-epidemic measures, as any contravention could hamper our progress made so far and render our efforts futile. As long as we play our part and stand united, our anti-epidemic journey will go more smoothly, creating the greatest room for people's livelihood and economic activities.