HONG Kong, Feb 3 (AP): Travel between Hong Kong and China will no longer require COVID-19 PCR tests nor be held to a daily limit, authorities announced Friday, as both places seek to drive economic growth.
Hong Kong’s tourism industry has suffered since 2019 after months of political strife that at times turned into violent clashes between protesters and police, as well as harsh entry restrictions implemented during the pandemic.
“From Monday, there will be a full resumption of travel between Hong Kong and the mainland,” Hong Kong leader John Lee said on Friday at a news briefing.
Lee said quotas for travellers will be scrapped and all boundary checkpoints will reopen next week.
The announcement came a day after Lee unveiled a tourism campaign aimed at attracting travellers to Hong Kong that includes 500,000 free air tickets for tourists to visit the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
China had already eased travel restrictions with Hong Kong on Jan. 8, dropping a mandatory quarantine period required for travellers entering the mainland. However, the number of travellers entering the mainland from Hong Kong via land checkpoints was limited to 50,000 a day.
From Feb. 6, most travellers crossing the border between mainland China and Hong Kong will no longer need to present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 prior to travel. Only those who have travelled overseas within the past seven days would be required to produce their negative PCR result, Hong Kong and Chinese authorities said Friday.
Both Hong Kong and mainland China were among the last holdouts globally to keep entry restrictions including mandatory quarantine periods, even as the rest of the world began reopening their borders in 2022.
Hong Kong — a business hub reputed as a popular city for tourists — has seen its tourism industry battered over the past three years.
In spite of China’s easing of entry restrictions last month, Hong Kong’s tourism industry has a long road to recovery.
In 2022, nearly 605,000 visitors came to Hong Kong — up sixfold from the year before, but about 90% less than 2019 before the pandemic, which saw 55.9 million arrivals.