The Chinese government announced Thursday that it would reopen its border to Hong Kong on January 8, almost three years after the border was closed in an effort stop the spread Covid.

A gradual reopening at border control points will enable up to 60,000 Hong Kong residents access to the mainland, John Lee, Hong Kong leader, told media Thursday after an announcement by Beijing.

This will remove the requirement for travelers to Hong Kong or the mainland to pass a quarantine. All travelers must test negative for Covid using a PCR within 48 hours of crossing the border. Passenger quotas also apply for travel in either direction.

China will remove international arrivals from quarantine and eliminate some restrictions on airlines that were in effect since the beginning of the pandemic. The reopening is announced on the same date.

These changes have been made after Beijing suddenly removed its oppressive Covid controls following widespread protests. After three years in self-imposed global isolation, attempts to resume regular transit to Hong Kong were repeatedly delayed.

The bustling border crossings connecting Hong Kong with mainland China were closed for most of their business operations in 2020. This is a huge burden on families and businesses who have ties to both.

The quota permits 50,000 people travel via three checkpoints on the ground, while the 10,000 remaining are for those who travel via the Hong Kong International Airport and two ferry piers as well as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai Macau Bridge.

Lee explained that Hong Kong residents who are returning to Hong Kong by land cannot be subject to this cap, nor can mainland Chinese travelling to Hong Kong from Hong Kong.

Advance bookings are required for certain travel arrangements.

China’s State Council has released a statement stating that flights from Hong Kong and Macau to mainland China will resume. Caps on passenger capacities will be lifted and flights will increase in a “phased, orderly” manner.

Both land and sea border control points between mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Macao are expected to resume in a “phased” and orderly manner.

According to the statement, China will also resume issuing tourist or business visas to residents of mainland China who are traveling to Hong Kong.

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