Travel agencies in Hong Kong are marking Mother’s Day weekend by offering their first local tours since December, as they take advantage of a relaxation in social distancing measures under the government’s vaccine bubble plan.
Families and friends joining a tour that set off from Tsim Sha Tsui on Saturday were visibly happy as they checked in with guides and had their temperatures taken, even though only a maximum of 30 people can participate in a tour.
Participants also had no problem complying with requirements to use the government’s LeaveHomeSafe app, as they entered a museum and took the Star Ferry.
Some tour-goers told RTHK that they’d wanted to join a local tour because they have grown bored during the pandemic.
One man said he wouldn’t even mind if authorities require people to first get Covid-19 jabs in order to join a tour.
Among the requirements for local tours to reopen is that all staff should have taken at least one dose of a vaccine.
But one guide at the scene said he’d been able to skip inoculation on medical grounds, with a doctor’s note and a negative test deemed sufficient for an exemption.
He also expressed concern that the authorities would halt local tours again, especially when cases involving Covid variants have been found in the community.
Meanwhile, the Travel Industry Council said its representatives have patrolled spots where some local tours set off, to see whether tour staff and participants are following rules.
Its chairman, Jason Wong, said at least twenty tours were due to take place this weekend.
He believes more tours will likely follow from next week, as some two hundred operators now have permission to run them.
Meanwhile, Freddy Yip the chairman of the Travel Agent Owners Association, urged the authorities to consider allowing so-called “cruise to nowhere” sailing trips, saying operators can hardly make any money from one-day local coach tours.