In the backdrop of the Chinese government’s accelerated unwinding of tough Covid-19 rules which had stunned economic growth, Hong Kong is planning to re-open its borders with Beijing from mid-January, said city Chief Executive John Lee on Saturday.
While addressing a press meeting at the Hong Kong airport after returning from a trip to China, Lee said that the city will “gradually, orderly, and fully” re-opened so that the border can attain normalcy like it was before the outbreak of coronavirus.
“Our goal is to quickly come to a consensus with the central government, submit our plan to the central government for review and execute on the plan before mid-January,” Lee said.
“Hong Kong authorities will work with the governments of neighbouring Shenzhen city and Guangdong province to manage the flow of people crossing the border,” he added.
The authorities imposed restrictions on travelling across the border in early 2020. The border re-opening was postponed many times because of outbreaks in mainland China or Hong Kong.
China and Hong Kong have been lagging extremely behind other countries in easing curbs related to coronavirus. People living in Hong Kong’s Chinese special administrative region had access to mainland china only through the airport of the city or two checkpoints – the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge or Shenzhen Bay.
According to the local media, the authorities are preparing for the re-opening of the border which includes the deployment of officers in huge numbers from the custom department of the city and police services, local media reported.
On December 12, the government of Hong Kong said that cross-border truck drivers were permitted by the mainland authorities to collect and deliver goods directly to their designated addresses without using the checkpoints.
Since mid-December, Hong Kong’s international passengers have not been subjected to movement controls related to Covid-19 and are not barred from entering certain places.
The city government said that the travellers arriving in Hong Kong can also directly head to Macau or mainland China as long as they fulfil the required criteria. Earlier, the travellers had to wait for three days before travelling to the mainland.
(With inputs from agencies)