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Hong Kong residents and university students arriving from mainland scramble to adapt to latest Return2HK scheme

After completing the mandatory coronavirus test, passengers on China Eastern flight MU507 from Shanghai, one of the few flights arriving today from mainland China, gradually exited the arrivals hall around 5:30 p.m., reluctantly ready to accept latest quarantine requirements of the Return2HK scheme.

Passengers on a China Eastern flight from Shanghai depart the arrivals hall at Hong Kong International Airport on Aug. 5.

"The government did not give us time to respond,'' said Xindy, a passenger on the Shanghai flight who came to work in Hong Kong and will stay in a hotel for her quarantine. "People who do not have a place in Hong Kong have to book hotels to quarantine, but many hotels are fully booked and many don't provide the quarantine service. The time left for us was too short, and the government did not provide any help."

The Hong Kong government announced yesterday that due to the sudden increase of coronavirus infections in mainland China, from midnight today (Aug. 5), Hong Kong residents returning from the mainland, except Guangdong Province, are subject to 14-day compulsory quarantine at home under the Return2HK scheme. They are also required to be tested five times for a coronavirus infection during and after the quarantine period.

"The previous policy, even if it is urgent, is usually implemented from ‘next Monday.’ It's on short notice this time," said Xindy, who was unhappy with the sudden change and only provided her first name.

The new quarantine policy also affects university students arriving from the mainland. Many students who returned to mainland China during summer holiday have to adjust their return plans.

"I originally planned to return to Hong Kong after August 20, but now I may go to Shenzhen these days," said Charlotte Wang, an undergraduate film student at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) who is now in Xi'an. "Since I have to either stay in Guangdong for at least 14 days or go back to Hong Kong for quarantine, I will have to waste half a month.”

Charlotte Wang speaks to a TYR reporter via a Wechat video call from her home in Xian, mainland China.

Xue Shaohua, a computer science undergraduate student at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), plans to return to Hong Kong immediately to quarantine. He believes that the coronavirus pandemic situation is severe and the policy might be changed again.

"I am very worried that the government will  cancel the Return2HK scheme completely before I have stayed in Guangdong Province for 14 days,” Xue said. “The policy may change at any time because of the easily mutated virus.”

He hopes that the university can again implement a mixed-mode system, so as not to delay studies for students unable to return to Hong Kong in time for the beginning of university classes.

"I heard that some freshmen are unable to get visas now due to the pandemic,” Xue said. “They may not be able to arrive in Hong Kong before semester starts next month."

HKBU’s Academic Registry office wrote in an email that in view of the stable situation of very few coronavirus infections in Hong Kong recently, the university does not intend to continue online classes at present. However, if a student has special circumstances, he can communicate with the instructor.

CUHK also announced that the default mode of teaching and learning for courses offered during the first term of the 2021-22 academic school year  will be in person and on campus. Students are expected to attend all classes and related activities in person.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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