China relaxes Covid travel restrictions with Hong Kong, Macau
Beijing, Feb 3 (EFE).- Travel restrictions between mainland China and Hong Kong and Macau will be significantly relaxed, with most dropped altogether, from next week, the administrations of Beijing and Hong Kong announced Friday.
The mainland’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said that from Monday, Feb. 6 there will be a “full resumption of personnel exchanges” between the three places, according to state newspaper the China Daily.
Group tours will resume, travel quotas will be dropped and customs clearance appointments will be canceled.
Those who have not been in a foreign country in the seven days prior to entering mainland China from Hong Kong and Macau will no longer need to show a negative PCR test upon arrival.
Likewise, in a press conference, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee said Friday that all of the territory’s land border crossings will be reopened on Monday.
Requirements for rapid Covid tests for people traveling between Hong Kong and Macau will also be dropped, as will vaccination requirements for inbound visitors, he added, according to public broadcaster RTHK.
However, rapid tests from arrivals from outside the mainland and Macau will still be required.
On Jan. 8, the land border checkpoints between mainland China and Hong Kong reopened for the first time since the pandemic began and travelers from the former British colony were able to cross customs without having to undergo quarantine.
However, the reopening was not complete: a maximum of 50,000 people are allowed to cross overland to and from Hong Kong each day, a quota that will be dropped on Monday.
Since 2020, Hong Kong has applied strict controls under a zero-tolerance policy against the coronavirus similar to that in place in mainland China until just a few weeks ago.
In December the territory announced the withdrawal of the three-day observation period for foreign arrivals, following the lifting of hotel quarantine periods for incoming arrivals in September.
Beijing began to dismantle its ‘zero-Covid’ policy at the beginning of December, after protests erupted across the country, and on Jan. 8 it downgraded the management level of disease, thus effectively marking the end of the policy.
This date also marked the end of the strict quarantines for new arrivals to China, which had been mandatory since March 2020. EFE