HONG KONG, -- Hong Kong authorities will establish polling stations along the border with mainland China in order to allow Hong Kongers to vote in the upcoming legislative elections. This was announced Tuesday by the city leader.
Carrie Lam stated that registered Hong Kong permanent residents who live on the mainland can cross the border to the city to vote at special polling stations during the Dec. 19 legislative election.
Lam stated that after voting, they must immediately return and won't need to be quarantined in mainland China by coronavirus.
She stated that "currently, there are still people on the mainland, and they can't return to work or study, but they won't have to go back to Hong Kong to vote (without such measures)."
Travelers from Hong Kong to mainland China currently must complete at least 14 days' quarantine. If they have not been to high-risk areas of the mainland, travelers from mainland China can enter Hong Kong without quarantine.
Legislative elections will be the first under the new Hong Kong election laws. These laws aim to ensure that only loyal "patriots", not Beijing, run the city. A largely pro-Beijing commission will select many legislators, reducing the number of seats directly elected.
Hong Kongers who live on the mainland are more inclined to vote for pro-Beijing candidates. This measure could increase voter turnout, which is expected to drop this year after the electoral reforms.
"The entire voting process will be closed. She stated that voters who visit these polling stations can't leave the designated area and they are not allowed to enter the community.
Lam also stated that a mainland delegation of experts on COVID-19 visited Hong Kong for four consecutive days in preparation for possible opening of the border.
Thursday will see a second meeting to discuss joint anti-epidemic efforts in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city bordering Hong Kong.
She said, "I do look forwards to a possible announcement regarding opening of borders in an ordered manner as soon as it is possible."
Hong Kong officials have been pushing mainland China to allow travel between Hong Kong and the mainland without quarantine. As a precaution against new outbreaks, Hong Kong has imposed strict quarantine rules on overseas visitors who arrive in the territory.
The city has one of the strictest quarantine policies in the world, with travelers returning from abroad having to serve up to 21 days of quarantine in government-designated hotels.
Lam encouraged Hong Kong residents not to get vaccinated as the city still hasn't reached a 70% vaccination rate for their first doses.
Lam stated, "I appeal to the public to fulfill their civic duties for a early resumption normal activities."