China is to open its doors to full cross-border travel between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau from Monday, dropping all existing Covid curbs and quotas.
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 in a statement on its website.
Even after China reopened its borders to the world on January 8, a quota system and Covid testing requirement remained for travellers between the mainland and Hong Kong. Three of Hong Kong’s border checkpoints have not yet reopened.
China’s announcement came a day after Hong Kong launched a promotion campaign including 500,000 free flights to lure back visitors, businesses and investors to the financial hub after more than three years of tough Covid curbs.
Hong Kong was largely sealed off behind closed borders for much of the past three years in a bid to ward off Covid, with a 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.
Hong Kong dropped most of its remaining Covid rules in December, but mask-wearing remains mandatory unless exercising, and students must take daily rapid antigen tests.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara