Cross-border trucks in Hong Kong could be required to carry mainland location-tracking devices under new Covid-19 rules discussed by the government and mainland authorities, Transit Jam has learned.
Details are still emerging, but the government says it has been “communicating closely” with the government of Guangdong Province on the idea to allow surveillance of vehicles in Hong Kong by mainland authorities.
“Regarding the requirements for GPS installation of cross-boundary goods vehicles as a prevention and control measure, the relevant Mainland authority has recently met the cross-boundary goods vehicle trade to listen to their views,” says a Transport Department spokeswoman, although it is unclear whether the “goods vehicle trade” refers to mainland or Hong Kong trucking firms.
The Transport Department also says it has been liaising closely with the mainland authorities “and will inform the trade accordingly if there are implementation details.”
Public health experts agree that contact tracing and location tracking can help in the battle against Covid-19, but some have expressed privacy concerns. In the US, fierce debate has raged over whether individual smartphones should be used in contact tracing, for example.
The cross-border truck trade has come under scrutiny as one potential weakness in Hong Kong’s pandemic controls, as truck drivers have been one of the largest groups exempt from mandatory quarantine.
Last week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor admitted there were some gaps in the city’s quarantine measures, but said exempting certain people from quarantine was an integral part of the system, “because Hong Kong needs to operate”.
“If we are going to say that no truck driver could come in… that is not practical and not realistic because Hong Kong needs to import a lot of goods and food and daily necessities,” she said.