The Chinese government announced Thursday that it will reopen its border with Hong Kong on January 8, nearly three years after it was largely closed in an effort to contain the spread of Covid.
Up to 60,000 Hong Kong residents will be able to cross into the mainland as the gradual reopening of border control points begins, Hong Kong leader John Lee told the media on Thursday after an announcement from Beijing.
This shift will eliminate what was considered a mandatory quarantine for travelers from Hong Kong to the mainland. All travelers will be required to test negative for Covid via PCR test within 48 hours prior to transit, and passenger quotas apply to travel in both directions.
The announced reopening comes on the same day that China will drop quarantine requirements for international arrivals and scrap a number of Covid restrictions on airlines since the start of the pandemic.
The changes come amid Beijing’s abrupt dismantling of a Covid stifle, in the wake of nationwide protests. The apparent reopening of the mainland follows three years of self-imposed global isolation, during which efforts to resume regular transit with Hong Kong have been repeatedly delayed.
Most of the previously busy border crossings between Hong Kong and mainland China have been closed since early 2020, placing a heavy burden on families and businesses with ties on both sides.
The quota includes 50,000 people traveling through three land checkpoints, while the remaining 10,000 is for people traveling through the Hong Kong International Airport, two ferry docks and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
Li said the cap does not apply to Hong Kong residents who travel back to Hong Kong from the mainland, nor Chinese nationals who travel to the mainland from Hong Kong.
In addition to testing, advance reservations will also be required for some flights.
According to a statement by China’s State Council, flights from neighboring Hong Kong and Macau to mainland China will resume and restrictions on passenger capacity will be lifted; The statement said that the number of flights will increase in a “phase and orderly” manner.
Land and sea border control points between mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao will also be resumed in a “phased and orderly” manner.
The statement added that China will also resume issuing tourist and business visas to mainland Chinese residents traveling to Hong Kong.
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