Hong Kong intends to start reopening its borders with mainland China before mid-January, aiming to return to pre-2020 cross-border travel arrangements, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee (李家超) said.
The borders are to “open fully in a gradual, orderly way,” Lee said during news conference at the city’s airport on Saturday on returning from a trip to Beijing, where he met Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
Lee’s team plans to hold talks with the governments of Shenzhen and Guangdong Province to formulate a plan to reopen the borders, and form a task force to focus on the issue. The group would report back to the central government, Lee said.
Matters under consideration in the first stage of the plan include deciding the daily quota of travelers, and which border control points should be opened, he said.
The border between Hong Kong and mainland China has been effectively shut for nearly three years. Visitors from Hong Kong are limited by a daily quota, while they also must undergo five days of hotel quarantine. Mainland visitors also must quarantine on their return.
Lee did not share details about the quarantine policy after borders open, only saying he hopes to return to the arrangements before the pandemic.
Most of Hong Kong’s border checkpoints have been closed since early 2020.
Lee’s trip to Beijing was his official visit since taking office in July. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) told Lee that Hong Kong needs to further integrate with the mainland’s development plans and consolidate its role as an international hub.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong could see an estimated 7.6 percent boost to its gross domestic product from China’s reopening, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc economists.
The local economy is projected to have contracted this year for the third time in four years. The city hosted almost 44 million arrivals from mainland China in 2019.
Hong Kong scrapped most of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks, including a ban on new arrivals entering bars or restaurants, and ending a policy requiring people to scan a QR code when entering venues. People must still wear masks in public.
China is rapidly moving to resume normal economic activity as it dismantles its pandemic restrictions. Beijing plans to cut quarantine requirements for overseas travelers in January, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.
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