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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today strongly opposed interference by a foreign government in a court case involving Lai Chee-ying and the false allegation and criticism against the Hong Kong SAR Government. It said in a press statement that it will never tolerate, and strongly deplores, any form of interference by any foreign power or individual with Hong Kong’s judicial proceedings and internal affairs. According to media reports, Mr Lai’s purported “international legal team” earlier wrote to the UK's prime minister to request to have an urgent meeting to discuss potential ways to secure the release of Mr Lai who is currently remanded in custody pending trial. It was also reported that UK Minister of State (Indo-Pacific) Anne-Marie Trevelyan met Mr Lai’s “legal team” upon request. Apart from admitting that the authority had been providing support to the defendant, they also falsely alleged that the Hong Kong SAR Government targeted certain people including Mr Lai. The Hong Kong SAR Government stressed that it opposes and condemns the acts of the purported “international legal team” and the UK government which attempted to undermine Hong Kong’s rule of law and interfere with the city’s independent exercise of judicial power. It strongly urges the relevant parties to respect the spirit of the rule of law and stop interfering with Hong Kong’s internal affairs. Should any country, organisation or individual attempt to interfere with judicial proceedings before the Hong Kong courts with political power, or any defendant attempt to seek help from and collude with a foreign political power to evade the criminal justice process, such actions will be deemed as blatantly undermining Hong Kong’s rule of law and interfering with the city’s internal affairs. The Hong Kong SAR Government added that such acts by a defendant highly likely constitute contempt of court.
Chief Executive John Lee visited the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line (Futian) Control Point today, the first day of the resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, to view the arrangements for people crossing the boundary. Mr Lee was briefed on the arrangements and spoke to members of the public during the visit, and said he was satisfied with the smooth operation on the resumption of normal travel. Noting that all the relevant boundary control points were operating well and people could travel across the boundary smoothly, he noted that the travel resumption must proceed in an orderly and safe manner. Mr Lee added that the relevant authorities will closely monitor the situation, including the arrangements before and after the Lunar New Year holidays, to come up with a plan for realising the full resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland in a secure and manageable way.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government announced that the operating hours of cargo clearance at the Man Kam To Control Point will change to 7am to 10pm daily with effect from tomorrow. As the COVID-19 epidemic situation became more stable, the governments of the Hong Kong SAR and Shenzhen agreed to adjust the operating hours of cargo clearance at the control point to align with that for passengers. The trade has been notified of the adjustment and the stable supply of food produce to Hong Kong will not be affected by the change, the Hong Kong SAR Government added.
In the run-up to the resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, the Customs & Excise Department today reminded the public and travellers not to bring prohibited or controlled items into or out of Hong Kong. It explained that it has stepped up promotion efforts in this regard by distributing the Smart Guide to Passenger Clearance at boundary control points and will disseminate information via the social media platform pages and WeChat official account. The department stressed that the Government has strict control over the import or export of prohibited and controlled items into or out of Hong Kong. The commonly found prohibited and controlled items are dangerous drugs, psychotropic substances, controlled chemicals, antibiotics, arms, ammunition, weapons, fireworks, strategic commodities, rough diamonds, animals, plants, endangered species, telecommunication equipment, game, meat, poultry, eggs and powdered formula. A passenger bringing any controlled medicines into or out of the city without a licence issued by the Department of Health is liable to prosecution with subject items seized. However, medicines carried by passengers in their personal baggage and in a reasonable quantity for personal use may be exempted from the licensing requirement. Medicines classified as dangerous drugs, antibiotics or Part 1 poisons are also subject to control under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, the Antibiotics Ordinance or the Pharmacy & Poisons Ordinance. The import or export of such medicines requires a doctor's prescription. Regarding alternative smoking products, under the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, any person who imports, promotes, manufactures, sells or possesses for commercial purposes alternative smoking products may be fined up to $50,000 upon conviction and face six months of imprisonment. Such alternative smoking products include electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco, herbal cigarettes and any related devices, parts and accessories. As people may bring in prohibited and controlled items unknowingly after travel, home-visit or festive shopping in the Mainland during the Lunar New Year holidays, they are reminded not to bring into Hong Kong any game, meat, poultry or eggs without a health certificate. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months. Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals & Plants Ordinance, any individual found guilty of importing or exporting endangered species including orchids, ivory, American ginseng and dried seahorse without a licence is liable to a maximum fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today said that people holding an Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to & from Hong Kong & Macao and a Hong Kong identity card concurrently can only use the same document for travelling between Hong Kong and the Mainland. It made the remarks in response to media enquiries about the arrangements for people holding both documents under the first-phase resumption of normal travel between the two places. If people use an Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to & from Hong Kong & Macao for going to the Mainland, they do not need to make any booking online. But before returning to Hong Kong, they should make a booking online successfully through the Shenzhen Municipal Government's system. Similarly, if they use a Hong Kong identity card for travelling to the Mainland, they will be required to make a booking online successfully through the Hong Kong SAR Government's system. However, they do not have to make any booking online before returning to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong SAR Government explained that on the principle of fairness, all people are required to make bookings online successfully before travelling to the Mainland or Hong Kong through the Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line/Futian control points under the first-phase resumption of normal travel. Such an arrangement will not be applicable to Mainland residents entering the Mainland, Hong Kong residents entering Hong Kong, and foreign visitors who return to Hong Kong from the Mainland. 
An interdepartmental meeting chaired by Deputy Chief Secretary Cheuk Wing-hing was held today to plan ahead and guard against the re-emergence of problems arising from parallel trading activities in anticipation of the resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland. The Government has all along been concerned about the nuisance caused by parallel trading activities to local residents' daily lives and its impact on environmental hygiene. Law enforcement departments will take stringent action against those who breach the regulations, be they Hong Kong residents or visitors. The departments will keep an eye on parallel trading black spots, especially in North District, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun, and take appropriate action based on actual circumstances. Among them, Customs will step up enforcement at boundary control points to inspect whether outbound travellers export controlled drugs, and maintain close contact with the Shenzhen authorities to put more effort into investigation and enforcement against parallel trading activities. The Immigration Department (ImmD) will establish a watch list for identifying suspected parallel traders and subject them to examination. If such people's purpose of visiting Hong Kong is in doubt, the department will refuse them entry and repatriate them immediately. The ImmD and Police will also conduct joint enforcement operations to arrest visitors suspected of contravening conditions of stay by involving in parallel trading activities. Moreover, Police and the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department will closely monitor black spots for parallel trading and step up patrols and enforcement against obstruction in public places by vendors and parallel traders. Regarding the recent episodes of people scrambling for pain and fever relief medicines, the Government pointed out that there are over 750 registered drugs containing paracetamol for people to purchase. The Department of Health has uploaded a list of registered drugs for the public to check online whether their desired paracetamol is under registration. The paracetamol that the Hospital Authority has reserved is currently adequate to meet the demand of local patients who seek medical consultations in public hospitals. The Government said it will continue to closely monitor the supply of medicines containing paracetamol, adding that it does not rule out the possibility of imposing restrictions on the purchase and sale of such medicines if necessary, so as to further ensure that people in need can purchase relevant medicines. It also urged all licensed drug dealers not to stockpile these medicines.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today announced that normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland will be resumed in phases starting January 8. This follows a consensus reached after deliberation and co-ordination with the central government, the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Shenzhen Municipal Government, and upon obtaining approval from the central government, it said in a press release. At Hong Kong International Airport, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZMB), Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal and China Ferry Terminal, the total one-way daily transportation capacity is expected to be around 10,000 passengers. At the Shenzhen Bay Control Point, Man Kam To Control Point and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line/Futian Control Point, all passenger clearance services as well as normal operating hours will be resumed. The prescribed daily one-way number of people who can pass through these boundary control points (BCPs) will be 10,000 at Shenzhen Bay, 5,000 at Man Kam To, and 35,000 at Lok Ma Chau Spur Line/Futian. To achieve resumption of normal travel in an orderly manner, the Hong Kong SAR Government launched an online booking system which requires Hong Kong residents and foreign visitors to Hong Kong to make bookings before they travel to the Mainland via the Shenzhen Bay Control Point, Man Kam To Control Point, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line/Futian Control Point and HKZMB. For the HKZMB, this arrangement is only applicable to drivers and passengers of private cars and cross-boundary hire car services, and the total prescribed daily one-way number of such travellers will be 1,000. No booking is needed for Gold Buses passengers who pass through the HKZMB. Mainland residents are not required to make any booking for returning to the Mainland. Similarly, the Shenzhen Municipal Government launched an online booking system for Mainland residents to make bookings before they come to Hong Kong. Hong Kong residents and foreign visitors returning to Hong Kong from the Mainland are not required to make any booking. Regarding anti-epidemic measures, the Hong Kong SAR Government announced that people entering the Mainland from Hong Kong or entering Hong Kong from the Mainland, will have to present a negative result for a COVID-19 nucleic acid test within 48 hours prior to the scheduled flight departure time or the time of arrival via a BCP. The Hong Kong SAR Government will review the overall implementation of the first-stage travel resumption as soon as possible to summarise the experience gained, and maintain liaison with relevant Mainland authorities on the arrangements of any subsequent phase. Such arrangements include covering more BCPs, raising the prescribed daily numbers of travellers, and allowing cross-boundary students to travel every day between the Mainland and Hong Kong after the Lunar New Year for face-to-face classes. Separately, the Hong Kong SAR Government announced that from January 8, cross-boundary ferry services between Hong Kong and Macau will be resumed gradually, initially with about 10 trips per day. For land transport, the existing cross-boundary bus services plying between the two places will be strengthened subject to demand. The virus testing requirement on all inbound travellers from Macau will remain largely unchanged. Those aged three or above on the date of arrival in Hong Kong have to conduct a rapid antigen test within 24 hours or undergo a nucleic acid test within 48 hours. If they have stayed in the Mainland on the day of, or in the seven days prior to arrival in Hong Kong, they will be required to undergo a nucleic test within 48 hours before to the scheduled time of arrival in Hong Kong.
The Security Bureau today led the disciplined services to conduct drills at three boundary control points to ensure they can operate smoothly once normal travel with the Mainland resumes on January 8. The drills were held at the Man Kam To, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line (Futian) and Shenzhen Bay control points. The participating departments and organisations included Police, the Immigration Department, the Customs & Excise Department, the Transport Department and the MTR Corporation. The exercises simulated the arrival of more than 300 travellers at the control points by cross-boundary coaches and private cars as well as trains to test the efficiency of various units in handling an abundance of travellers. Over 600 personnel were enlisted for this purpose. A triage procedure for northbound passengers was simulated in which each passenger had to present proof of a negative nucleic acid test result within 48 hours of their trip. They also had to present proof of a successful reservation if they are travellers with reservation required. Additionally, the drills tested whether the Hong Kong personnel and their counterparts from the Mainland can maintain prompt and close communication to launch the kind of co-ordination mechanism that is necessary to tackle possible people and traffic congestion in the port areas. Various scenarios, including departing travellers failing to present all necessary supporting documents and outbound travellers carrying prohibited items without a licence, were simulated as well. The bureau said it will take time for travellers to get acquainted with the arrangements at the initial stage of the resumption of normal travel with the Mainland as heavy flows at such control points cannot be ruled out. In addition to advising travellers to have patience and heed the instructions of personnel at the control points, the bureau reminded people to make sure they bring all the required documents for inspection.
The Fire Services Department (FSD) and Polytechnic University (PolyU) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) today to put forward a study to track the location of fire personnel at indoor fire scenes in order to further enhance frontline personnel safety. The department and PolyU will collaborate in studying the use of indoor positioning technology to track and locate fire personnel at fire scenes inside buildings and protect them against danger. Witnessed by Director of Fire Services Andy Yeung and PolyU President Prof Jin-Guang Teng, the MoU was signed by FSD Assistant Director (Corporate Strategy) Kwok Pak-chiu, and Head of the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering of PolyU Prof Chan Kang-cheung. Mr Yeung said that the FSD has long been supportive to the Government in promoting the innovation and technology (I&T). Over the years, the department has proactively introduced and applied I&T in enhancing its firefighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services for better protection of the lives and property of citizens as well as the safety of frontline fire personnel. He said that the FSD has deployed robots for firefighting tasks, and also applied artificial intelligence-assisted drones during mountain rescue operations to help search for missing people. Both devices have been proven to be effective in greatly enhancing operational efficiency and safety. Mr Yeung added that the FSD also shares accomplishments on I&T research with the fire and rescue departments of the Mainland cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area by conducting regular technical exchanges. Prof Teng said the collaboration to develop an indoor fire scene tracking system will combine PolyU's advanced positioning and precision engineering technologies with the FSD's professional facilities and support. The study will help provide more timely protection to fire personnel. He added that the university will continue to harness its multi-disciplinary research strengths to support the FSD's work. For instance, its Department of Building Environment & Energy Engineering is conducting smart firefighting research that adopts artificial intelligence to monitor fire hazards in buildings.
The Government is actively preparing for a large-scale interdepartmental exercise based on the Daya Bay Contingency Plan (DBCP), which will be held on January 12, to test and enhance the nuclear emergency preparedness of government personnel and their knowledge of dealing with nuclear power station emergencies that may affect Hong Kong. The DBCP is a nuclear emergency response plan in Hong Kong. In addition to internal drills conducted by relevant departments from time to time, the Government has been holding large-scale interdepartmental exercises every three to five years and the previous one was held in 2017. Codenamed Checkerboard III, this year's exercise comprises a command post drill and a field operation drill with the activation of a high-level emergency response structure. Chief Executive John Lee will chair the Chief Executive's Steering Group, while Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung will lead the Implementation Task Force to command the actions taken by relevant bureaus and departments in response to a simulated nuclear accident and related incidents. Frontline departments will simulate a precautionary evacuation and set up a monitoring centre for radiation screening of evacuees, monitoring of food radiation and more, with a view to testing the departments' capability and efficiency in implementing radiation precautionary measures. More than 1,400 personnel from 37 bureaus, departments and organisations will participate in the exercise. To enhance the professionalism of the exercise and strengthen interaction, the Security Bureau will invite Mainland, overseas and local experts as well as members of the Legislative Council Security Panel to observe the exercise and offer suggestions to the Government. Meanwhile, the Government strives to enhance people's understanding of the DBCP and strengthen public education and publicity about nuclear emergency preparedness and nuclear safety. The DBCP website has been updated to enable the public to learn about the preparation and contingency plans the Government has made for a nuclear incident as well as nuclear safety and radiation protection. The Security Bureau also launched a quiz game on Facebook and Instagram where participants may win souvenirs of the exercise. Information about a nuclear emergency was also added to the bureau's Safeguard HK mobile app. The Government said it will assess the outcome of the exercise and consider the comments and recommendations received from participants and observers to further improve the DBCP as necessary.