China and Hong Kong will start quarantine-free travel as soon as January, media outlet HK01 reported, as the mainland rapidly unwinds its Covid Zero measures.
Travel could resume as soon as January 9, the report said, citing unnamed people from the Guangdong health commission. China will require visitors from Hong Kong to undergo three days of home monitoring, it added.
The resumption of tourism from the mainland would be a boon for Hong Kong’s economy, which has been hobbled by more than two years of Covid
-related border restrictions. The city could see an estimated 7.6% boost to its gross domestic product from China’s reopening as exports and tourism income climbs, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists said Monday.
In another sign from senior Chinese officials that the country is emerging from its Covid
Zero isolation, the country’s ambassador to the US said Monday that it will welcome more international travelers in the “near future.”
China has rapidly dismantled its Covid
Zero regime in recent weeks, amid a rising economic cost and unprecedented social unrest. A national mobile app that was previously used to track people’s travel history will be scrapped from Tuesday.
Local media reported Saturday that there is “a good chance” of a “large-scale” pilot program for quarantine-free travel before the Lunar New Year holidays, which start on January 22.
The border with mainland China has been effectively closed since February 2020. Visitors from Hong Kong are limited by a daily quota, while they also have to undergo five days of hotel quarantine. That has cut the city off from its vast hinterland as well as drastically reduced the number of visitors. In 2019, there were more than 236 million passenger trips via land crossings across the border.
Hong Kong’s government said earlier that the exact date for quarantine-free travel with China is still unknown.