Following the downgrade of COVID-19 to a Class B infectious disease and the removal of centralized quarantine for inbound travelers, on Thursday, January 5, 2023, China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office announced that it will further optimize personal exchange between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao, as part of moves to reopen its border and resume cross-border travel.
What are the optimized measures?
Starting from January 8, 2023, Hong Kong residents traveling to mainland China will no longer be subject to centralized quarantine and nucleic acid tests (PCR tests) after they arrive, although visitors will still need to provide a negative PCR test certificate from the recent 48 hours and complete a health declaration.
Macao residents traveling to mainland China are not required to provide negative PCR tests for entering mainland China, as long as they haven’t traveled to or lived in a foreign country or region within seven days.
Besides, China will resume transfer/transit services to the mainland at Hong Kong and Macao International Airports. The passenger load restrictions on flights from Hong Kong and Macao to and from the mainland will be lifted and the number of flights will be increased in an orderly manner.
Moreover, China will resume processing of endorsements for Chinese mainland residents to visit Hong Kong for tourism and business purposes.
China will also resume land and water passenger transport between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao gradually and in an orderly manner, to facilitate speedy customs clearance for entry-exit personnel.
As to outbound tourism to Hong Kong and Macao, the announcement said “China will resume tourism to Hong Kong and Macao in an orderly manner in light of the epidemic situation in the two regions and their ability to provide services.”
How to understand the optimized measures?
After three years of isolating the financial hub from the mainland, China is finally reopening its border with Hong Kong. This move is the latest step by China to transition to the “living with COVID” mode. It forms part of China’s efforts to scrap mandatory quarantine and boost investors’ confidence in the economy.
Following in the footsteps of mainland China’s reopening, Hong Kong also announced the removal of almost all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including testing requirements for inbound travelers and social distancing, starting December 29, 2022. The special administrative region (SAR) will also lift the need for a vaccination permit to visit some locations.
Under this situation, it won’t be long before the travel between mainland China and the SARs grow back to the pre-pandemic level.
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