Residents should take gov’t flights

February 18, 2020

(To watch the video with sign language interpretation, click here.)


Chief Executive Carrie Lam urged Hong Kong residents aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan to return home via chartered flights arranged by the Government.


Addressing the media before today’s Executive Council meeting, Mrs Lam said the Immigration Department has deployed staff to communicate with the 300-some Hong Kong residents on the ship.


She said there are still 10 outstanding residents and that the department will continue to reach out to them.


For Hong Kong passengers who do not have a means of contact, the Government will try to approach them through the cruise company.


Since a number of Hong Kong residents have expressed reservations about taking the chartered flights, Mrs Lam said the Government will send each of the Hong Kong people on the cruise ship a letter to explain the arrangment and the consequences of not taking the chartered flights.


"They may not realise that if they don’t take this chartered flight and they disembark, they think they could board a commercial flight and come back to Hong Kong. One, is they may have difficulty in getting a commercial flight ticket. Because if people know that they come from this cruise, then there may be some worries.


"Secondly is, even if they manage to take a commercial flight back, upon arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport they will be stopped by the Immigration Department because they will be put on the watch list. And our port health officials would then approach them and would likewise serve a quarantine order."


Mrs Lam stressed that the flights are free of charge and those concerned must make a final decision right away.


“I hope with that full explanation, that those who have expressed some reservations about using our service - and by the way it’s a free service that we are rolling out - will reconsider and let our Immigration Department know their exact decision, because we need the decision pretty early so that we can arrange the transport and so on.”


Regarding Hong Kong people in Hubei, Mrs Lam stated that she is very concerned and attached great importance to their situation, adding the Government has provided necessary assistance to them.


She pointed out that while the Government wants them evacuated, it must also consider that the local coronavirus situation is still severe.


As movement in and out of the province is tightly controlled, a specific plan should be drawn up first, Mrs Lam added.

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