Transcript of remarks of press conference on full resumption of normal travel with Mainland (with video)
Reporter: The first question, why is the pre-departure RAT (rapid antigen test) still necessary when there is practically no enforcement? Isn't it unfair if Hong Kong residents are no longer required to report an RAT result and do any isolation, but visitors have to do so? And the second question, would the Government reconsider setting up an independent commission of inquiry (COI) to investigate the handling of the pandemic or any other way that will ensure the transparency because, Mr Lee, when you dismissed the call to set up the COI there are actually a backlash from society and many experts do not agree. Will you consider that? Thank you.
Chief Executive: First of all, the RAT requirement is only applicable to people who return to Hong Kong or come to Hong Kong to visit. We require an RAT for the purpose of ensuring that any risks from overseas can be monitored and controlled. This is really for the benefit of controlling the spread of the disease, and ensuring that the public health is protected. It is for the people's overall good. Honestly, I want to resume everything to normalcy as soon as possible. But I have to do it in a balanced and controlled manner, as I have already said many times, so that I don't have to roll back.
The reason for keeping it for a while is, also, that the normal travel resumption with the Mainland will involve a lot of people travelling across the boundary and that will be a big number. In order to ensure that we will be able to control the risk, I think we should keep the RAT requirement for people coming to Hong Kong from overseas, so as to protect the overall public health of the people, for the good of the people. But I will review it after a period of time, particularly after we have resumed normal travel with the Mainland for a period and looking at the data, then we will decide the next step.
Regarding the suggestion of doing an independent investigation, my position has been made very clear. We should do lesson learning, but we have been doing the lesson learning since day one of the assumption of office of this Government and we are doing it very regularly, otherwise we will not have introduced different measures to resume normalcy. This is a continuing exercise and will be done by responsible departments. If there is a need for any opinions from other people, then of course the responsible department will talk to those people. If you look at what we have done, this continuation of lesson learning is the doctrine of this Government in different policy areas. In order to ensure that we will be able to deal with future challenges and risks in regard to this disease, we will be summarising and for those successful measures, we will recognise them and update them into our guidelines and response plans. That will be the most practical and also the most effective.
I also want to focus the energy of the Government on developing the economy, and I am doing this in a very pragmatic manner. On the one hand, we will do our lesson learning, we will update what has been the good practices and successful practices into our guidelines, so that we will be able to deal with future challenges. At the same time, the Government will be working to ensure that Hong Kong develops economically and remains competitive. My position is very clear. We will do lesson learning, but we will do lesson learning as we always do within the Government, as we are in the course of dealing with this pandemic. I must also emphasise there are a lot of people who disagree with the idea of doing any independent investigation and agree with my position.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Friday, February 3, 2023
Issued at HKT 16:55
Issued at HKT 16:55
Audio / Video
CE holds press conference on full resumption of normal travel