After three years, the mainland is opening its border with Hong Kong and ending a requirement for incoming travellers to quarantine
Travellers began streaming across land and sea crossings from Hong Kong to mainland China on January 8, many eager for long-awaited reunions, as Beijing opened borders that have been all but shut since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After three years, the mainland is opening its border with Hong Kong and ending a requirement for incoming travellers to quarantine, dismantling a final pillar of a zero-COVID policy that had shielded China's people from the virus but also cut them off from the rest of the world.
Read | In China, zero-COVID policy to zero COVID policies
China's easing over the past month of one of the world's tightest COVID regimes followed historic protests against a policy that included frequent testing, curbs on movement and mass lockdowns that heavily damaged the second-biggest economy.
“I'm so happy, so happy, so excited. I haven't seen my parents for many years," said Hong Kong resident Teresa Chow as she and dozens of other travellers prepared to cross into mainland China from Hong Kong's Lok Ma Chau checkpoint early on Sunday.
"My parents are not in good health, and I couldn't go back to see them even when they had colon cancer, so I'm really happy to go back and see them now," she said, adding that she plans to head to her hometown in eastern China's Ningbo city.
Investors hope the reopening will eventually reinvigorate a $17-trillion economy suffering its lowest growth in nearly half a century. But the abrupt policy reversal has triggered a massive wave of infections that is overwhelming some hospitals and causing business disruptions.