Hong Kong Reopening With China Comes With 60,000-Person Cap
The border between mainland China and Hong Kong will gradually reopen from Sunday, paving the way for a restoration of economic and social ties.
(Bloomberg) -- The border between mainland China and Hong Kong will gradually reopen from Sunday, paving the way for a restoration of economic and social ties that have been disrupted for three years.
But recovery is likely to be slow, with Hong Kong setting a maximum limit of about 60,000 people allowed to travel into the mainland from the financial hub every day — a fraction of pre-pandemic flows. Those coming from the mainland will also need to show a 48-hour negative PCR test result, while some land border control points, including Lo Wu, will stay shut for now.
The high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and the mainland will resume no later than Jan. 15. Ferry services between Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the financial hub and the mainland will restart. People will need to book their travel slot online.
The daily limit includes a 50,000-person cap on people traveling via land borders, Chief Executive John Lee said at a briefing Thursday. The remaining quota is limited by constraints on transport including ferries and planes. Mainland residents returning home aren’t included in the limit.
“We have taken a huge step toward resumption of normalcy,” Lee said. “I will say that we’re almost there.”
In an earlier statement, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said China will cancel flight capacity limits from Hong Kong and Macau, and will resume flight transit to the mainland from the two cities. China will require a 48-hour negative PCR test result for arrivals from Hong Kong, it said.
The border between Hong Kong and mainland China has been effectively shut since early 2020, as both places pursued a Covid Zero policy that saw them sealed off from the world for much of the pandemic. The resumption follows Beijing’s rapid dismantling of its zero-tolerance policies, reopening the country to the world and scrapping quarantine for arrivals from Jan. 8 as it seeks to revive slumping economic growth.
Read more: China’s Economy Ends Year in Slump as Covid Infections Surge
Easier travel is also an important boost for Hong Kong, which has struggled under the weight of pandemic controls that cut it off from the mainland, the city’s largest source of visitors and biggest trading partner. The financial hub, which welcomed almost 44 million arrivals from mainland China in 2019, probably contracted in 2022 for the third time in four years.
Hong Kong has long been an important gateway between mainland China and the rest of the world, but travel has been stymied throughout the pandemic. There’s currently a 3,500-person limit on the number of visitors coming from Hong Kong, and the mainland’s requirement for all inbound travelers to undergo five days of hotel quarantine.
Last year, there was an average of about 3,000 trips a day between Hong Kong and the mainland via the land border control points — the most significant route of travel — down from 640,000 in 2019.
Read more: Hong Kong’s Isolation Estimated to Cost Economy $27 Billion
As well as China’s abandonment of Covid Zero, Hong Kong has been making incremental changes to virus polices. The city scrapped most of its remaining pandemic curbs in recent weeks, including restrictions on new arrivals going to bars or restaurants and scrapping PCR tests for travelers after they get to the city. The financial hub has said it plans to keep its outdoor mask mandate, citing concerns about the simultaneous hit of Covid and influenza.
Elsewhere, Macau also announced a raft of changes to virus policies. Starting Sunday, the city will allow foreigners to enter without pre-approval, and new arrivals from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan will no longer need to take a Covid test before travel. People coming from other places will need to present either a negative PCR test or a rapid test result valid within 48 hours before their journey.
Travelers will also be able to enter mainland China within one week of their arrival in Macau if they can present a 48-hour negative Covid PCR test.
--With assistance from .
(Updates to add Macau details in final paragraphs.)
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