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

The content originally appeared on: CNN

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 shut in an effort to contain the spread of Covid.

The shift would will eliminate what had been a mandatory quarantine for travelers from Hong Kong to the mainland, and border control points are expected to be opened in a phased approach.

The announced reopening falls on the same day China will drop quarantine requirements for international arrivals and scrap a number of Covid restrictions on airlines in place since the start of the pandemic.

The changes come amid Beijing’s sudden dismantling of its stifling Covid controls, following nationwide 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 previously bustling border crossings between Hong Kong and mainland China had been shut since early 2020, placing a heavy burden on families and businesses with ties on both sides.

According to a statement from China’s State Council, arrivals from Hong Kong will no longer be subject to PCR tests, though they will need to present a negative test result taken within 48 hours of departure.

Travelers from neighboring Macau, on the other hand, do not need to present negative test results as long as they have no foreign travel history in the seven day prior to their entry of the mainland.

Flights from Hong Kong and Macau to mainland China will resume and caps on passenger capacities will be lifted; the number of flights will increase in a “phased and orderly” fashion, the statement said.

Land and maritime border control points between mainland China and Hong Kong and Macao will also resume in a “phased and orderly” manner.

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

CNN’s Mengchen Zhang contributed reporting.