China to open border with Hong Kong after three years of tight control

China to open border with Hong Kong after three years of tight control

Hong Kong CNN —

The Chinese government announced Thursday it will reopen its border with Hong Kong on January 8, nearly three years after it was largely closed to stem the spread of Covid.

Up to 60,000 Hong Kong residents will be able to cross the border to the mainland when a phased reopening of border checkpoints begins, Hong Kong leader John Lee told media on Thursday after an announcement from Beijing.

The postponement will remove mandatory quarantine for travelers from Hong Kong to the mainland. All travelers must test negative for Covid via a PCR test within 48 hours of crossing and passenger quotas apply for travel in both directions.

The announced reopening comes on the same day that China will lift quarantine requirements for international arrivals and lift a number of Covid restrictions on airlines that have been in place since the pandemic began.

The changes come amid Beijing’s sudden dismantling of its stifling Covid controls following nationwide protests. The mainland’s apparent reopening comes after 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 had been closed since early 2020, taking a toll on families and businesses with connections on both sides.

The quota includes 50,000 people traveling through three land checkpoints, while the remaining 10,000 are for people traveling through Hong Kong International Airport, two ferry terminals and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

The cap does not apply to Hong Kong residents traveling back to Hong Kong from the mainland, nor to mainland Chinese traveling back to the mainland from Hong Kong, Lee said.

In addition to testing, some trips also require advance bookings.

According to a statement from China’s State Council, flights from Hong Kong and neighboring Macau to mainland China will resume and passenger capacity caps will be lifted; The number of flights will increase “gradually and in an orderly manner,” the statement said.

Land and sea border checkpoints between mainland China and Hong Kong and Macau will also resume in a “gradual and orderly” manner.

China will also resume issuing tourist and business visas to mainland Chinese residents traveling to Hong Kong, the statement said.

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