Hong Kong to reopen China border amid ease of COVID-19 restrictions

Published on : Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Hong  Kong

Hong Kong has announced that travellers arriving from China will no longer need to quarantine as a part of its effort to ease COVID-19 related curbs that was established following summer outbreaks of the coronavirus on the mainland. As of now, the city will accept a maximum of 2,000 travellers each day.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam mentioned that individuals who have not been to medium or high-risk areas on the mainland or Macao can enter the city, starting Wednesday, September 8. All travellers will require a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival and will have to undergo several tests during their time in the city to ensure they are not infected.

Last month, Hong Kong halted quarantine-free travel and imposed a mandatory quarantine period of seven or 14 days, depending on the traveller’s vaccination status. The region’s “zero-COVID” strategy saw authorities impose strict border restrictions and ban flights from extremely high-risk countries, in the hopes that no local community spread would allow it to reopen borders with mainland China.

Lam mentioned that further restrictions will also ease next Wednesday, when mainland residents will be able to enter the city without quarantine via the Shenzhen Bay port and via the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge. These visitors will also need to test negative before travelling.

He also mentioned that the government will issue a press release with details of the program, including a requirement for regular testing. However, the program will not be reciprocal, as travellers from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland will still required going through quarantine. Most residents from Hong Kong have not been allowed to enter mainland China since the start of the pandemic.

Currently, China has strict border restrictions that allow only Chinese nationals or those with valid residence permits and visas to enter the country, and all travelers are required to quarantine at least 14 days. Since the beginning of the pandemic, most Hong Kongers haven’t been able to freely enter mainland China.

The city will also resume its “Come2HK” plan on Wednesday to boost the city’s tourism industry, which was highly impacted due to political issues in 2019 and pandemic-related border restrictions. Tourist numbers fell by as much as 99% in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The program was previously open to people from the neighbouring province of Guangdong and will now apply to all mainland cities except those considered medium or high risk. Throughout the pandemic, Hong Kong managed to keep Covid-19 cases and deaths low with the help of strict requirements for returning residents, bans on leisure travellers and extensive local testing and contact tracing programs. It only recently began allowing in non-residents from some countries, provided they were vaccinated and went through quarantine. 

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