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45,000 people move by land on the first day of the resumption of "no quarantine" between HK-China

A total of 45,000 people from both sides traveled in both directions by land on the 8th, the first day of the resumption of quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and China, Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK reported on 9 March.

"About 33,000 travelers have entered China by land from the Hong Kong side," RTHK reported.

"About 44,000 people used Hong Kong International Airport the day before, but that includes travelers traveling to and from places other than China."

Earlier, Hong Kong authorities said a total of 30,000 travelers had applied to enter China the day before.

China and Hong Kong resumed quarantine-free people-to-people traffic on Jan. 8 after three years, allowing 60,000 travelers a day each in both directions through seven checkpoints along the border.

On the Hong Kong side, 50,000 people can travel to China a day through the three land border points of Shenzhen Bay, Lok Ma Chau and Man Kam To, and 10,000 people a day through Hong Kong International Airport, Ferry Terminal and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Both China and Hong Kong have allocated 70 percent of overland travelers to the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint.

A total of 100,000 people a day can travel in both directions by land, but on the first day less than half that number was traveled.

In particular, fewer travelers entered Hong Kong from China, in the aftermath of the PRC's suspension of issuing permits for mainland residents to visit Hong Kong for tourism and business purposes and only resuming them the day before.

"As of 8 p.m. on the 8th, a total of 92,219 people have entered and left the Hong Kong Entry Gate," the Hong Kong Register said, adding, "56,852 people have left the country through various entry checkpoints, and 35,367 people have entered the country."

The figures also included travelers from outside China, but combined they fell short of the quota for two-way daily travelers between China and Hong Kong.

Travelers in both directions between China and Hong Kong only need to present a negative PCR (gene amplification) certificate 48 hours before departure. However, you must apply in advance for the checkpoint, date, and time to use through the reservation site.

"It took 20 minutes to enter Hong Kong from China by land, but it took twice as long to enter China from Hong Kong to China, 40 minutes," Myungbo said, adding, "At checkpoints on the Shenzhen side of China, we only relied on the traveler's self-declaration of PCR test results, but for travelers from the Hong Kong side to Shenzhen, customs officers checked each negative PCR certificate and turned the traveler back if it was invalid."

There are a total of 14 entry checkpoints in Hong Kong, but in the past three years, only three have operated on a limited basis: Hong Kong International Airport, Shenzhen Bay and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

Even before COVID-19, people-to-people travel between Hong Kong and China was limited to 600,000 people per day. However, with the onset of the pandemic, movement was effectively halted for the first year, and only last year did it expand to 3,000 people a day.

Meanwhile, nine major shopping malls in Hong Kong have offered shopping offers totaling HK$18 million (about 2.9 billion won) in preparation for the influx of Chinese customers, according to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Sun Hongkai Group, which offered a HK$10 million benefit, said, "In anticipation of free travel with China, we have instructed 15 shopping malls to stock 20 to 30 percent more products such as cosmetics, health products, and watches."

Placards and installations have been placed at each immigration checkpoint in Hong Kong to welcome Chinese tourists to the country, and welcome gifts are handed out to visitors.

However, due to the small number of Chinese tourists who arrived on the first day, the shopping malls they visited before the pandemic were also quiet, the SCMP said.

"One in 10 Chinese customers visited Sha Tin New Town Plaza, located on the border and popular with travelers from Shenzhen, the day before," the SCMP reported, "but Chinese tourists were ready to open their wallets in Hong Kong."

"Even in the pharmacies in the border area of Shengsui, there were almost no Chinese customers the day before," he said, adding, "However, the antipyretics and antidiarrheal drugs in the local pharmacies have already run out."

Earlier, Hong Kong authorities said they would crack down on the export of drugs outside the border in large quantities other than for personal use, as travelers entering China from Hong Kong began hoarding COVID-19-related drugs.

Xu Jiamin, 32, arrived in Shenzhen via Lok Ma Chau the day before, told SCMP that he had already shopped HK$20,000 (about 3.2 million won)," adding, "I had been in Hong Kong for three years, so I had almost forgotten how comfortable Hong Kong is for shopping." [YonhapNews]

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