The border between Hong Kong and mainland China is set to fully reopen in January 2023 for the first time in 3 years. The South China Morning Post reported on December 16 that thousands of Customs, Immigration, and police officers would be dispatched to land checkpoints to oversee the anticipated influx of traffic.
According to a regime source, the departments were preparing to test all Customs checkpoint clearance systems at the city’s high-speed rail that runs into Guangdong province and along other border sections. That is because authorities need weeks to prepare for the relaxed rules.
Another insider said that the city’s rail operator was regularly conducting drills to get ready to resume service.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020, most of Hong Kong’s border checkpoints have been shut. These include those at Lok Ma Chau, Heung Yuen Wai, and the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus.
Under current mainland rules, visitors from Hong Kong are subject to a daily quota and a five-day hotel quarantine. Mainland visitors must likewise undergo quarantine on their return.
As part of eased restrictions on the mainland, authorities expected an increase in the cross-border flow of people and goods from Hong Kong. Particularly, the daily quota for residents permitted to cross the border each day will be from 2,000 to 2,500.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists estimated that Hong Kong could see a 7.6% boost to its GDP from China’s reopening.
Dongshu Liu, an assistant professor specializing in Chinese politics at the City University of Hong Kong, said that since Xi Jinping has changed his mind about “zero-COVID,” officials can work fast to revive the economy.He added, “The social and economic pressure is huge on both sides, resuming travel is something very urgent for them.”