Tens of thousands of people will be able to travel between Hong Kong and China daily from Sunday, in a major easing of pandemic-related measures after the border has been virtually closed for nearly three years.
Hong Kong and mainland China have maintained a strict "zero Covid" policy with drastic travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines that have seen visitor numbers plummet.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said on Thursday that from Sunday, up to 50,000 Hong Kong residents will be able to register online to cross the border daily through three land crossings.
About 10,000 more will be able to enter the mainland by sea, air or across bridges without needing to register in advance, he added at a press conference.
A similar number of travelers will be allowed to travel to Hong Kong from the mainland without having to undergo mandatory quarantine.
While these measures do not constitute a full reopening, they are the largest easing since restrictions were put in place in early 2020, which had the effect of separating families, halting tourism and suspending most business trips.
Mr Lee predicted a “very significant” impact on the Hong Kong economy. “The year 2023 will be more fabulous, more prosperous,” he said.
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Bureau had announced earlier on Thursday that travel would be “(resuming) gradually and in an orderly manner” from Sunday, the day Beijing is scheduled to end mandatory quarantine for arrivals from China. foreigner.
People traveling to mainland China from Hong Kong will still need to present a negative test result taken within 48 hours of departure.
The Bureau also said earlier Thursday that Beijing plans to cancel quotas on flights departing from Hong Kong and Macau and resume transit flights to mainland China.
High-speed rail between Hong Kong and the mainland will resume no later than Jan. 15, authorities said.