Agencies also labouring under new regulations
Agencies that make arrangements for pregnant mainlanders to have their babies in Hong Kong say the business is harder than ever.
Ms Xu of E-baby Land, a Guangzhou-based birth tour agency, said they had been extremely nervous since Hong Kong launched a series of measures to curb the influx.
'The situation is like the stock market. It changes every day,' she said.
Ms Xu said the new border controls and booking requirements had made it very complicated to make arrangements. 'Many who were worried about the new policy chose to come to Hong Kong before February 1. All our hostels are full. There are far fewer beds available in hospitals in the coming months and we have to check them one by one.'
Booking antenatal checks has also become a problem. 'There are many people in Beijing and Shanghai calling in, hoping to make a weekend trip to Hong Kong to do antenatal checks, but not all of them can get a good time slot,' Ms Xu said.
The agency charges 3,000 yuan as a deposit for booking beds, and 13,000 yuan for eight days' accommodation and application for the baby's Hong Kong documents. A Hong Kong-based agency, Hang Seng Medical Services Company, also had been busy in the run-up to the enforcement of the border control.
'We don't want to say it is impossible for heavily pregnant customers to come to the city without booking, but we tell them the risk is huge, or, if they insist, unaffordable,' the agency said.
Another Guangzhou agency said earlier in the week it arranged a car to take one heavily pregnant customer through the Man Kam To checkpoint. She was almost sent back by immigration officers. 'Usually people can pass the border without getting out [of the vehicle], but she was asked out and questioned by the immigration people,' said an agency employee.
'Fortunately, our colleagues had coached her how to answer officers' questions and she was finally allowed to pass.'