China will open its border with Hong Kong after three years of strict controls

Hong Kong

The Chinese government announced on 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 the border with the mainland as the gradual reopening of border checkpoints begins, Hong Kong leader John Lee told media on Thursday after an announcement from Beijing.

The change will remove what was a mandatory quarantine for those traveling from Hong Kong to the mainland. All travelers will be required to test negative for Covid by PCR test within 48 hours of transit and passenger quotas apply for both-way travel.

The announced reopening falls on the same day 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 lifting of suffocating Covid controls following national protests. The apparent reopening of the mainland comes after three years of self-imposed global isolation, during which efforts to resume regular transit with Hong Kong were 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 connections on both sides.

The quota includes 50,000 people who will travel through three land checkpoints, while the remaining 10,000 are for people traveling through Hong Kong International Airport, two ferry piers 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, advance reservations will also be required for some trips.

According to a statement from China’s State Council, flights from Hong Kong and neighboring Macau to mainland China will resume and restrictions on passenger capacity will be lifted; the number of flights will increase “in a phased and organized manner,” the statement said.

Land and sea border checkpoints between mainland China and Hong Kong and Macau will also be reopened in a “phased and organized” manner.

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

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