Hong Kong residents crossing border at Shenzhen Bay Port can soon book Covid-19 tests online as eager travellers throng checkpoint | South China Morning Post
Hong Kong residents crossing border at Shenzhen Bay Port can soon book Covid-19 tests online as eager travellers throng checkpoint.New system is aimed at easing crowding at the crossing point as travellers head to mainland China. Traffic has intensified after the Shenzhen government increased quota of quarantine hotel rooms
Hong Kong is set to allow travellers heading to mainland China through Shenzhen Bay Port to book Covid-19 tests online as residents continue to swamp the checkpoint and ignore the government’s advice to delay trips over the border.Shenzhen authorities also announced on Sunday a new measure to crack down on scalping of quarantine hotel rooms by allocating them through drawing lots following discussions with the Hong Kong government.Shenzhen Bay Port, one of just two land passenger crossings that remain open amid the pandemic, has been packed with crowds in the morning over the weekend after the Guangdong provincial city boosted the number of quarantine hotel rooms by 700 to 2,000 a day and added additional spots for those in need.
As seen during a Post visit on Sunday, queues snaked outside the checkpoint as hundreds of travellers from Hong Kong waited to undergo the required nucleic acid test before crossing.Planning to visit his relatives on the mainland, Yuen said the Shenzhen government should have made more quarantine hotel rooms available.The 2,000 a day is definitely not enough,” he said. “Residents need to go to Shenzhen. But the issue of quarantine hotel rooms should be addressed first. I was lucky to lock in my booking early on.”Alan Wong, a 49-year-old construction company manager, was unable to book a quarantine hotel room in Shenzhen and his company paid a scalper 2,300 yuan (US$293) to secure a reservation one week in advance.
Wong said that while it was fairer to use the quota system, the chances of failing to get a hotel room created too many uncertainties for people who needed to do business.“It’s just like waiting for the results of the Mark Six or a Home Ownership Scheme ballot. You’ll never know until the last minute,” Wong said.Secretary for Health Dr Lo Chung-mau visited the checkpoint in the afternoon. Earlier in the day, Lo explained in a TV interview that quarantine-free travel with the mainland remained unfeasible at the moment, as allowing it would require a significant change to the nation’s anti-pandemic policies. Lo added that Hong Kong residents needed to follow the mainland’s requirements when travelling there.
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A Hong Kong government spokesman said travellers would need to wait for about three hours to receive their Covid-19 test result at the control point and urged them to cross the boundary in the afternoon to avoid the morning rush.Under the coming booking arrangement, which is expected to be ready in a week, travellers must obtain a spot at a Shenzhen quarantine hotel and reserve a time for the Covid-19 test at the border crossing on the day of departure.Hongkongers hoping to travel across the border previously needed to book a room at a quarantine hotel through a government website on a first-come, first-served basis. But to combat the scalping, the Shenzhen government would allocate rooms to travellers by drawing lots, taking into consideration supply and demand, as well as the travel history of the applicant, authorities said. A traveller can only make one booking for the same date and results will be announced at 8pm daily.Society for Community Organisation deputy director Sze Lai-shan said: “The problem now is not much about online booking or queuing at the control point, but more about insufficient hotel rooms for quarantine on the Shenzhen side.
“The online booking thing is a crowd management measure. It does not mean more people can go to the mainland unless the Shenzhen side makes more quarantine hotel rooms available to meet demand.”Legislator Edward Leung Hei, of the Beijing-friendly Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, urged the government to increase shuttle bus services for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge to allow more visitors to enter the mainland using that access point.