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China to open border with Hong Kong for first time in 3 years on Sunday

HONG KONG, Jan 5 (Reuters) - China will reopen the border with its special administrative region of Hong Kong on Sunday for the first time in three years, as it accelerates the unwinding of stringent COVID rules that have battered its economic growth.

The opening will bring the resumption of quarantine-free travel between the financial hub and the mainland, although it would be done in a "gradual and orderly" way, China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said in a notice on Thursday.

China is set to reopen to the world on Sunday, welcoming international travellers and returning residents without the need to quarantine for the first time since 2020, even as infections surge after it scrapped its COVID curbs.

Short of imposing a city-wide lockdown, Hong Kong closely followed China's tough zero-COVID policy until the middle of 2022 when it began to ease some of restrictions.

The former British colony dropped all of its COVID rules in December but masks remain mandatory except while exercising.

Hong Kong and China have trailed most of the world in easing tough COVID precautions and the border reopening was postponed several times over the past year because of COVID outbreaks in one place or the other.

Hong Kong leader John Lee told reporters on Thursday a maximum of 60,000 people a day from either Hong Kong or China could cross the border from Jan. 8. People would need to make a reservation online to cross land borders, while ferries and flights are subject to ticket availability.


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