The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council on Thursday issued a notice to optimize people-to-people exchanges between the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SAR) from January 8, 2023, scrapping the mass nucleic acid testing requirements at customs checkpoints for personnel entering the mainland through Hong Kong and resuming mainland residents' permit applications for tourism and business in Hong Kong.
Personnel from Hong Kong enter the mainland by presenting a negative nucleic acid test result for novel coronavirus taken 48 hours before departure, and are also required to fill in their test results on customs health declaration cards. Those from Macao without a travel history in foreign countries and regions within the previous seven days are exempted from testing requirements.
Mass onsite nucleic acid testing will no longer be implemented for all personnel entering the mainland through Hong Kong and those who have a normal health declaration without symptoms at customs can enter the community, the notice said. Those who test positive without severe underlining conditions or with mild symptoms can undergo home quarantine, it noted.
The country's top authority on epidemic prevention and control also announced the resumption of connecting and transit services into the mainland from Hong Kong and Macao international airports, canceling the passenger load restrictions on flights between the two SARs to the mainland and gradually increasing the number of flights in phased manner.
It also asked airports to simplify the handling process for inbound flights and improve the efficiency of airport operations while strengthening flight receiving capacity in key cities.
All airlines continue to do a good job in on-board epidemic prevention, and passengers must wear masks when boarding, the notice said.
Mainland authorities will also resume permit applications for mainland residents traveling to Hong Kong for tourism and business purposes, in addition to reopening land ports and waterways between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao in an orderly and phased manner, providing greater convenience to travelers.
According to the epidemic situation in Hong Kong and Macao and the service guarantee capabilities in all aspects, travel for mainland residents to Hong Kong and Macao will be fully resumed in an orderly manner, the notice noted.
Shortly after the notice was released, online searches for travel to Hong Kong spiked 379 percent, and online searches for flights between the mainland and Hong Kong surged 287 percent, while clicks for hotels increased 163 percent, according to Tongcheng Travel.
Hong Kong and Macao have always been popular travel destinations for mainland residents, and the resumption of permit applications will allow Hong Kong to welcome its first wave of tourists during the upcoming Spring Festival.