Hong Kong, Macau Will Fully Reopen Borders with Mainland China on February 6

Total Views : 31
Zoom In Zoom Out Read Later Print

Group tours between China and its two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau will resume, while the number of customs checkpoints open will return to pre-pandemic levels, China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said.

China on Friday said it will fully reopen borders with its two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau next week, in what is expected to be a major boost for the economies of the two cities as the country drops existing quotas and scraps a mandatory COVID-19 test that was required before travelling.

From Monday February 6, travellers arriving mainland China from Hong Kong or Macau will no longer be required to provide proof of negative COVID tests, as long as they have not travelled abroad in the previous week, China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said in its statement, adding that daily quotas on the number of travelers will also be scrapped.

The resumption of normal travel is expected to provide much support to the battered economies of the two cities. Hong Kong is a major international financial center, and, before the pandemic, Macau was the world’s casino capital.

China’s announcement came a day after Hong Kong launched a promotion campaign including 500,000 free airline tickets, in what it called “the world’s biggest welcome ever”, to bring back visitors, businesses, and investors to the financial hub after more than three years of tough COVID curbs.

The city, whose economy contracted last year according to preliminary government data, was largely sealed off behind closed borders for much of the past three years in a bid to ward off COVID, with mandatory quarantine of up to three weeks for people arriving as well as intensive testing and screening.

The former British colony closely followed China’s zero-COVID policy until the middle of 2022 when it began to gradually unwind its rules, dropping most of its remaining COVID rules in December. However, mask-wearing remains mandatory in the city unless exercising, and students must take daily rapid antigen tests.

Businesses began seeing some relief last month, when residents of Hong Kong and mainland China were permitted to resume two-way, quarantine-free travel.

Under the partial reopening, travellers were required to test negative for COVID-19 and make online bookings for trips in advance under a daily quota system.

That is now no longer required, Hong Kong Chief Secretary Chan Kwok-ki said on Friday, adding that both sides would soon be able to get back to “normal travel.”