As he held his first press conference as leader of Hong Kong on Tuesday, John Lee said he would seek to ease travel restrictions while keeping an eye on the dangers of a coronavirus epidemic overwhelming the health care system.
Two and a half years after the epidemic began, only a few cities in the globe, including Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, still quarantine new arrivals. Most visitors to Hong Kong are subject to an obligatory quarantine of seven days in specified hotels.
In the election for Hong Kong’s chief executive, Lee, a former security officer who was the only contender, succeeded Carrie Lam on Friday.
On the eve of an Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lee gave his first press conference, saying that Hong Kong is a “international metropolis” and that he was “aware” of the need of keeping the city open and accessible to visitors.
In order to preserve a solid balance, “he continued, “we must also manage the hazards at the same time.” Health officials are analysing data to see whether the quarantine period may be reduced, Lee said, and they’ll come up with ideas for him to consider.
Since mid-June, the number of cases in Hong Kong has increased from less than a hundred per day in early May to more than 1,000 per day. On Monday, the city recorded 1,841 new cases of illness.
In addition to the national security legislation imposed by Beijing in 2020, Lee claimed Hong Kong has a “constitutional obligation” to implement a new security law, which has wiped out the majority of political opposition and placed many democratic activists under jail, hiding, or exile.
Article 23 of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, has long been a contentious issue. Attempts to draught similar legislation by the government were shelved in 2003 after a major rally by opponents.
In the wake of the 2019 demonstrations, the legislature of Hong Kong was reshaped as part of the crackdown. The legislature, which is stacked with pro-Beijing MPs, is expected to adopt Lee’s Article 23 legislation.
Before the law is passed, Lee said that Hong Kong’s condition and degrees of security dangers would be evaluated. “We are optimistic that we will succeed,” he stated.
With regard to Hong Kong’s housing market, Lee said that he would seek to “address short-term concerns as swiftly as possible” and that he would investigate ways to transform available land into “spade-ready sites” in order to speed up and improve the efficiency of home construction there.