China is reopening its borders, lifting longstanding closures in place since the start of the pandemic under the country’s zero-COVID policy.
Beijing’s travel policies have isolated China’s population from the rest of the world for the last three years, and the newly eased restrictions have ushered in a surge of travel.
Mainland China also opened its border with Hong Kong, allowing as many as 60,000 people to flow from either side each day without a quarantine restriction in a move expected to boost Hong Kong’s economy after years of the pandemic.
International travelers headed into mainland China still need to show a negative PCR. test result taken within 48 hours before departure, but will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival in the country.
Authorities in the country are now bracing to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 as travelers rush into China, particularly during this month’s Lunar New Year, urging residents and visitors to continue mask-wearing and hand-washing, and to limit unnecessary travel.
China reportedly suspended social media accounts for some 1,000 critics who spoke out against the government’s policies on the virus amid the easing of restrictions.
Beijing reported two COVID-19 deaths in mainland China on Saturday, according to Reuters.
China had some of the harshest restrictions worldwide amid the pandemic, and its zero-COVID policy had sought to eliminate every case of the virus in the country, a plan U.S. health officials called unrealistic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.