China announced on Friday that it would waive a COVID-19 test and health form requirement for foreigners applying for visas to the mainland from Hong Kong if they have been vaccinated with a Chinese-made vaccine.
Aside from a vaccination certificate, the above-mentioned foreign nationals and their family members visiting the Chinese mainland for resuming work and production in various fields just have to provide the same amount of paperwork as they would before the pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Hong Kong said.
The simplified process takes effect from Monday.
Invitation letters issued by provincial departments or central state-owned enterprises are no longer necessary.
The office said it made the move “in view of resuming people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries in an orderly manner.”
The office will also expand the scope of applicants eligible for applying for a visa out of emergency humanitarian needs to cover more family members of Chinese citizens or permanent residents of China, including spouse, parents, children and other close relatives.
Holders of valid APEC business travel cards may apply for the M visa by presenting the original valid APEC business travel card and the invitation letter issued by the inviting party in the mainland, the office said.
The office noted that the visa facilitation above applies only to applicants who have been inoculated with Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines, either having received two doses with the stipulated gap in between or having received a single-dose vaccine at least 14 days prior to the application, and have obtained the vaccination certificate.
A proof of a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test result and the Health and Travel Record Declaration Form for Visa Application are no longer required, the office said.
Meanwhile, some law firms and banks in Hong Kong face compulsory testing for coronavirus as most of the new cases recorded over the weekend were linked to a gym used by the financial and expatriate community. The health department told a briefing that so far 109 cases have been confirmed as related to the outbreak at Ursus Fitness, a gym in the city’s Sai Ying Pun district, which is popular with expatriate lawyers, bankers and hedge fund executives.
The government published a compulsory testing notice covering 80 residential premises and workplaces, many in central financial and business district.
Many of the 29 workplaces affected are leading law firms and financial institutions, including Shearman & Sterling, Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, HSBC, Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas and BNY Mellon.