China has announced it will fully reopen its borders with the Hong Kong and Macao regions, pulling back COVID-19 testing requirements and daily quotas after closing them for nearly three years. The State Council’s Hong Kong-Macao Secretariat said on Friday that all remaining restrictions will be lifted from midnight on February 6, allowing group travel to resume.
Limited travel across the border between Hong Kong and mainland China resumed in January after Beijing abandoned the zero-COVID strategy that had split families, cut off tourism, and suffocated businesses. Hong Kong leader John Lee said on Friday that partial reopening had been “orderly, safe and smooth”. Hong Kong has been largely sealed off for much of the past three years as its government sought to follow Beijing’s pandemic policies with the mandatory quarantine of up to three weeks for arrivals, as well as intensive testing and screening.
The former British colony will begin lifting some of its rules in mid-2022, with Lee lifting a longstanding requirement that all visitors be vaccinated against COVID-19, covering a territory of about $27 billion. The influx of tourists will revitalize the once-thriving tourism and retail industries. The full opening of borders comes a day after Prime Minister Lee launched his campaign of rebranding to attract international tourists, with more than 500,000 free flights and “no quarantines, no restrictions, no quarantines.”