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The Hong Kong government is in high-level talks to reopen its borders with 11 countries in a new travel bubble as the country looks to rebuild its economy.

The region's Commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah said anyone allowed to travel within the bubble would be mandated to undergo COVID-19 PCR testing at both ends of their trip.

Citizens wear masks on Apliu Street in Hong Kong
Citizens wear masks on Apliu Street in Hong Kong

This is the first time in months that the administration has provided more details on reopening Hong Kong's borders. 

Tang-wah stated that Hong Kong had made contact with 11 countries in regards to a reciprocal reopening of borders.

The 11 countries are:

  •  Japan
  • Thailand
  • South Korea
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Malaysia
  • Vietnam
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Germany 
  • Singapore
Please Don't Gather sign in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

The Commerce Minister did however admit that so far the government has only entered bilateral talks with Thailand and Japan. 

“These are places with which we have made initial contact, but whether travel bubbles can be established would depend on a host of factors, including the epidemic situation and its containment in respective places,” stated Yau.

People walking In the Central District of Hong Kong wearing masks to protect themselves from COVID-19
People walking In the Central District of Hong Kong wearing masks to protect themselves from COVID-19

While specific groups of travelers have not been named, some countries did say priority would be given to business travelers first according to the South China Morning Post

“It all depends on how ready and comfortable both parties are with the situation.” 

No timelines have been announced on when Hong Kong borders could reopen.

Hongkong Street Scene in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

“We need to ensure that a coronavirus test – that is mutually recognised – can be carried out before travelling, and another verification is needed after arrival,” Mr Yau said during the press conference in Hong Kong yesterday.

Asia has remained one of the most locked down areas of the world. 

Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, China and Japan all remain closed for general tourism. 

Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong

Some Asian countries however have reopened travel corridors which allows for business travelers. Malaysia and Singapore reopened the borders between the two countries on August 17th for selected travelers under what was call the ‘Reciprocal Green Lane‘.

Both Malaysia and Thailand are also accepting medical tourists under strict protocols. 

Citizens wearing the face masks in Hong Kong to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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