China, grappling with a new wave of COVID-19 infections, took another step towards loosening its pandemic-related restrictions on Saturday when Hong Kong’s leader announced it would aim to re-open its borders with the mainland by mid-January.
Speaking at a news conference upon returning from Beijing, Hong Kong Chief executive John Lee said authorities would aim to “gradually, orderly, and fully” re-open all entry points between the two sides, and coordinate with the government of nearby Shenzhen to manage the flow of people.
At present, individuals hoping to enter the mainland through Hong Kong can only do so through the city’s airport or two checkpoints – Shenzhen Bay or the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.
Entrants into the mainland must also undergo a period of hotel quarantine before they can move about freely.
Hong Kong and Beijing shut their borders in early 2020 as COVID first surfaced and they have remained closed since then, as China has capped inbound travellers as part of its strict “zero-COVID” policy.