Hong Kong’s battle against the coronavirus is entering a new stage. Starting from Friday next week, a new health code system compatible with the ones used on the mainland and Macau will be rolled out for trials. This will, hopefully, soon enable users to cross the border without quarantine. Understandably, this is a new venture and requires wider public education and publicity. The government should step up its efforts in addressing people’s concerns over its use and ensure the implementation of the relevant measures may ease cross-border travel without compromising public health protection during a fluctuating global pandemic. Officials have made clear that the code is only required by those who cross the border. Users have to first register their full name and proof of home address, make a health declaration and have their vaccination and test records. Depending on individual circumstances, such as whether one is undergoing quarantine, been to places that require compulsory testing, or be within 21 days of arrival in the city, a coloured QR-code will be issued. Only those deemed to be risk-free will be issued a green code to cross the border. Separately, a new version of the “Leave Home Safe” contact tracing app will be available for download. This will enable users to upload and share their whereabouts over the past 21 days with relevant authorities, should there be need to track movements because of infections. Hong Kong health code compatible with mainland China’s to launch next week Those who are concerned about privacy breaches will be relieved to learn that the government has no plans to mandate the use of the health code within the city. Nor is there any need to require those using the risk-exposure app to provide personal identification in the foreseeable future. But those who use the health code to cross the border must realise that their identities and whereabouts may be tracked in the event of infections. For the sake of health control, the arrangements seem necessary and fair. The government is well aware of the logistical issues involved. In addition to enhancing public awareness via community reach programmes, there will be free smartphones for the needy as well as improvements for the visually impaired in using the Leave Home Safe app. They are pragmatic measures to get the community ready for the new challenges arising from the reopening of borders in times of growing concern over the Omicron variant. The health code is not merely for the sake of those who travel. It is a new milestone in the joint efforts of Hong Kong and the mainland in fighting the pandemic as we all seek to return to normal public life. It is in the interests of the city and the country to make the code a success.