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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

China to reopen borders, including with Hong Kong, after 3 years

China to reopen borders, including with Hong Kong, after 3 years

China will reopen its borders on Sunday, including with its special administrative region of Hong Kong, after nearly three years of COVID-19 closures and restrictions.
Here is what you need to know:

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS, TRAVEL
Passengers entering China will no longer have to quarantine or take a COVID test on arrival, the National Health Commission said.

However, they must have a negative result from a PCR test taken within 48 hours of departing for China.

China set out a plan last month to restore its average daily passenger flight volumes to 70% of 2019 levels by Jan 6 for both domestic and international flights, although international flights remain at a small fraction of pre-COVID levels.

Less than one-fifth of China's widebody fleet of about 500 planes is in storage, according to a McKinsey analysis using Cirium data, with most planes active but flying fewer hours than usual on domestic routes, or on limited international and cargo flights.

PASSPORT, VISAS
China will resume the issuance of passports for Chinese mainland residents, as well as ordinary visas and residence permits for foreigners, starting from Jan 8.

China will also resume issuing visas for mainland residents to travel overseas, the country's immigration authority said.

CROSS-BORDER TRAVEL
China will begin to gradually reopen cross-border passenger transport via road starting on Sunday, according to a plan released by the Ministry of Transport, state media reported.

Separately, the National Health Commission said that passenger entry and exit at sea and land ports would gradually resume, while outbound travel of Chinese nationals will be restored "in an orderly manner".

For international cruise ships, pilot programmes will be carried out, followed by a phased resumption of full services.

All COVID testing for imported food at ports will be cancelled starting on Sunday.

BORDER CHECKPOINTS
Hong Kong and mainland China will operate seven out of 14 border checkpoints on Sunday, including at Shenzhen Bay and Lok Ma Chau Station.

The high-speed rail line from Hong Kong's West Kowloon station to the mainland will not resume service until later in January.

Travellers from both Hong Kong and China must obtain a negative COVID test result and log it online within 48 hours of departure.

No quarantine or on-arrival COVID tests are required for those entering the mainland from Hong Kong. Anyone who displays COVID symptoms may be asked to take a rapid antigen test.

Macau and Hong Kong announced that ferries between the two special administrative regions will resume on Sunday. The services will be resumed gradually, starting with about 10 trips a day.

CROSS-BORDER QUOTAS
Hong Kong's government will allow 50,000 Hong Kong travellers to cross daily into the mainland via land crossings.

A further 10,000 people from Hong Kong are expected to enter the mainland daily via the Macau-Hong Kong-Zhuhai bridge, or via ferry or air routes. There are no quotas on those routes, but transportation services will only gradually be ramped up.

There is a daily quota of 60,000 for travellers from the mainland entering Hong Kong.

Prior to the pandemic, there were more than 236 million passenger trips annually across the land borders between Hong Kong and the mainland, government data showed, for an average of nearly 650,000 per day.

Hong Kong and the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen have launched an online booking system for travellers to reserve a slot. More than 280,000 people have already made bookings on those platforms for dates from Jan 8 to March 4.

China will from Sunday resume issuing tourist and business visas for mainland residents to travel to Hong Kong and Macau.
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