China has reopened its borders to international visitors for the first time since it imposed travel restrictions in March 2020.
Incoming travellers will no longer need to quarantine – marking a significant change in the country’s Covid policy as it battles a surge in cases.
They will still require proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of travelling.
The move has been welcomed by many eager to reunite with family.
In Hong Kong, 400,000 people are expected to travel into mainland China in the coming weeks with long queues for flights into cities including Beijing and Xiamen.
On Sunday, double-decker coaches packed with travellers arrived at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge to catch buses to the Guangdong province – among them were college students returning home.
One man told the BBC he hadn’t seen his extended family in three years and could not hold back his excitement, having just bought a ticket back to the mainland.
A woman told news agency Reuters she had not seen her parents in years – despite one of them suffering from colon cancer – and said she was “so, so happy”.
READ ALSO: Prince Harry responds to Jeremy Clarkson’s column,criticizes lack of royal support for Meghan
The country’s reopening comes at the start of “Chunyun”, the first period of Lunar New Year travel. Before the pandemic, it was the largest annual worldwide migration of people returning home to spend time with family.
Two billion trips are expected to be made this Lunar New Year, double the number that travelled last year.
Li Hua, who travelled from the UK to China – where her family lives – for the festival said it had been “too long” since she had returned, “I’m so happy to be back, and breathe Chinese air. So happy, so happy”.
Mark Clayton returned home to Zhuhai, in Guandong, with his wife and baby after visiting Hong Kong. He told the BBC his trip home had been “nearly as smooth as it used to be pre-Covid”.
“We didn’t even show them the PCR, we simply scanned a code and put in a very quick customs declaration… And then straight through,” he said.
Continue from BBC