(Reuters) – HONG KONG (Reuters) – Authorities in Hong Kong and China claimed a meeting on Thursday brought them closer to partly reopening their border, as the two governments dig in as the world’s last to pursue a zero-COVID-19 strategy.

The global financial centre has followed Beijing’s example in enacting some of the world’s harshest travel restrictions, in the hopes of persuading China, the country’s major source of economic development, to allow some cross-border mobility.

On Thursday, delegates from the two administrations met in Shenzhen, China’s tech powerhouse.

“The conference made good progress in discussing the gradual and orderly restoration of quarantine-free travel between the mainland and Hong Kong,” the former British colony’s administration said in a statement.

In a second statement, China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office claimed the pandemic situation in Hong Kong was “stable and manageable.”

According to the South China Morning Post, which cited two anonymous mainland sources, cross-border travel is scheduled to start next month, subject to a quota.

Hong Kong’s government said it has to build its own version of China’s “Health Code” mobile tracing software and establish boundary control stations for the opening in the near future.

Despite the fact that there have been few local cases this year and a COVID-19-free environment, Hong Kong has implemented obligatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from most countries for up to 21 days at the expense of the travellers.

International business lobby organisations have warned that unless Hong Kong loosens its travel restrictions, it risks losing talent and investment, as well as competitive ground, to rival finance centres such as Singapore.

The head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong resigned, claiming that she couldn’t petition authorities to alleviate COVID-19 limitations while also being quarantined.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), said the city’s COVID-19 policy was making it more difficult to retain employees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *