Chinese mainland, HK resume normal travel after three years

2023-01-09 08:22:28China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus

Passengers line up at checkpoints at Lok Ma Chau Station in Hong Kong on Sunday after the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong resumed normal travel after three years. (EDMOND TANG/CHINA DAILY)

Residents hail the major step, saying it solves pressing needs in life, work

For the first time in three years, thousands of eager travelers from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Chinese mainland crossed the border without quarantine on Sunday to reunite with their loved ones or take care of business.

Travelers said they were excited to set foot once again on the other side, and they hailed the initial-stage resumption of normal travel, which solves their pressing needs in life and work and marks a major step toward full normalization.

Starting on Sunday, 60,000 people per day will be allowed to travel to and from Hong Kong and the mainland via seven land, air and sea control points. They will not need to quarantine but will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours.

The Hong Kong SAR government also reopened four Hong Kong checkpoints — Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, the Hong Kong-Macao Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan and the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui — that were closed for three years.

Early Sunday morning, many Hong Kong residents arrived at checkpoints to await the resumption of normal travel, and the flow of passengers peaked between 8 and 10 am. After crossing the border, many of them hugged and chatted with their relatives and friends.

Shops at various newly reopened control points also resumed operations.

Mainland staff members at some ports welcomed inbound passengers with placards, gift bags with masks and cards with information on nearby transportation.

Lau Kit-chun, a PhD student from Hong Kong at Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing, had stayed in Guangdong province for three days in advance to ensure that he could return to the SAR on the first day that normal travel resumed.

Lau, who had not seen members of his family in Hong Kong for three years due to COVID-19 restrictions, said he missed them a lot. In addition to a family reunion, he will be able to look for internships in the city, thanks to the resumption of normal travel.

Hong Kong resident Tsang Kamfan went to the mainland to attend the funeral of her grandfather, who passed away last week. She said that she'd had little time to prepare the necessary documents to apply for entry under the quota on compassionate grounds.

To ensure that she could enter the mainland on Sunday, Tsang used four mobile phones to register through an online booking system that was launched on Thursday.

Louis Wang Tianzi, who works at a securities company in Hong Kong, went to the mainland on business. He said he has been waiting a long time for normal travel to resume, recalling that a year ago, he had to undergo nearly a month of centralized and home quarantine during trips to the mainland.

Wang plans to return to Hong Kong in a few days and then commute daily between the two places. He said he hopes that high-speed rail services and the Lo Wu checkpoint will resume operations to make it more convenient for him to commute between the SAR and the mainland.

As of 8 pm on Sunday, more than 92,000 people had traveled in and out of Hong Kong via land ports, of whom 56,800 were leaving the city, according to Hong Kong's Immigration Department.

After inspecting the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said that most Hong Kong residents who have made reservations plan to travel to the mainland on Jan 20, followed by Jan 19 and Jan 21 — the three days preceding the Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan 22 this year.


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