BEIJING: Chinese New Year 2023 brought home happiness as the wait of families to meet their near and dear ones end as China dropped COVID- norms for passengers arriving. This meant travelers arriving from semi-autonomous southern Chinese cities and other nations would no longer require quarantine. Ticket fares- a major deterrent for travelers also come to an end with the ditching of the policy.
Travelers crossing between Hong Kong and mainland China, however, are still required to show a negative Covid-19 test taken within the last 48 hours – a measure China has criticized when imposed by other countries.
China had closed its borders for three years with the first outbreak in Wuhan. The border opening despite the risk of new infections will allow tens of thousands of people who have made prior online bookings to cross each day and is expected to provide a much-needed boost to Hong Kong’s tourism and retail sectors.
Limited ferry service had also been restored from China’s Fujian province to the Taiwanese-controlled island of Kinmen just off the Chinese coast. The border crossing with Russia at Suifenhe in the far northern province of Heilongjiang also resumed normal operations, just in time for the opening of the ice festival in the capital of Harbin, a major tourism draw.
The ease in quarantine requirements came as China abandoned its strict “zero-Covid” policy in December following unprecedented anti-lockdown protests. However, this led to a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in China with hospitals and morgues in the country being overwhelmed.