Thousands of Hong Kongers travel to China on first day of border reopening

Beijing, Jan 8 (EFE).- Thousands of people crossed the border between Hong Kong and China on Sunday, nearly three years after the Chinese government closed entry points with the financial hub to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Customs clearance on the first day of quarantine-free travel with the mainland was easy, according to Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee.

Travelers entering China no longer need to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test on arrival for the first time since March 2020.

The city government has allowed a quota of 50,000 Hong Kong travelers to cross daily into the mainland via land crossings and 10,000 more via ferry or air routes.

Up to 11 a.m. (local time) on Sunday, some 9,000 Hong Kong residents had crossed the border at Lok Ma Chau, the official Radio and TV Hong Kong reported.

Lee told reporters after visiting the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint that the quota was not fully booked for the Lunar New Year.

“There is still about a thousand left on the quota,” Lee said.

“I will monitor the situation and liaise with the Guangzhou and Shenzhen authorities to see when we can review the quota.”

A flight from Hong Kong to Beijing with 291 passengers on board landed at the Beijing international airport around 10:40 a.m., the official Global Times reported.

The Times reported that the previously closed loop area was removed.

Inbound travelers just needed to voluntarily fill in their COVID-19 test results and take their temperature checks before getting through customs.

A coronavirus testing window was set for those with a high fever.

China has ended three years of pandemic restrictions in a reversal of the practice under the strict ‘zero-COVID’ policy.

Hong Kong had followed a similar “zero-tolerance” policy against coronavirus until September 2022, when it stopped requiring compulsory quarantines in hotels.

COVID was downgraded from a Class A to a Class B disease in China on Sunday. Class A diseases require strict containment measures.

The Chinese government is contemplating more relaxation, marking the end of the ‘zero-COVID’ policy. EFE


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