The biggest travel agent on the India-Hong Kong route has pledged greater oversight and stricter health protection rules in a plan submitted to the local government seeking the resumption of direct flights between the two places, which were banned following a spate of imported coronavirus infections.
GC Nanda & Sons made the submissions to the Security Bureau on Friday as the two-week ban neared its end at midnight on Monday.
Air India has not said if and when its Hong Kong flights would resume following the ban, which went into effect on August 18, but it has stressed its flights followed all strict health protection guidelines laid out by health officials.
For now, the Hong Kong government is allowing and advising potentially thousands stranded in India to fly to the city via transit hubs, despite the potential for increased exposure to the virus. Coronavirus-positive cases from India have previously travelled to Hong Kong via stopovers in Singapore, Doha and Kuala Lumpur, according to a Post analysis.
A government spokesman said it had been liaising with the Indian consulate, especially regarding the need to charter special flights where exceptional circumstances warranted.
Since July 25, the Hong Kong government has required travellers from high-risk countries – including India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia and the United States – to secure a negative Covid-19 test with certification and validation within 72 hours of departure. A hotel reservation for 14 days must also be presented as proof.
India may get approval to operate flights on a one-way basis to pick up passengers from Hong Kong, but talks to get approval to carry passengers to the city would be a separate issue.
As of July 31, the Immigration Department said it had contacted about 6,700 Hong Kong residents stranded in India, including 590 HKSAR passport holders. About 3,000 have already returned to the city.
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