Goodbye Covid! Hello travel!

December 28, 2022 08:37

I could not tell you how odd I feel about winter holidays this year.

I got a full booking in the run-up to Christmas, thanks to a further relaxation of social distancing measures yet I could not enjoy any parties.

That is because I, like a lot of peer friends, got my first Covid after nearly three years because of more social activities.

But luckily it was mild like the usual flu and I recovered in five days.

Ditto for a close buddy group who got first-time covid at almost the same time in four different areas in Greater Bay Area.

Having affected many Hong Kong families – including my two immediate families, I am quite sure that Covid, which has a new name “novel coronavirus infection” (instead of pneumonia) in China will continue to spread. In Hong Kong, reported cases surged past 20,000 while lots of mainland Chinese were also reported to be infected.

That is somewhat expected because the virus tends to dominate in colder weather but what is quite unexpected is the sudden open-door policy.

China will reopen borders and abandon quarantine on January 8, ending a three-year cut-off from the rest of the world. Many families in Hong Kong and China can finally be reunited before the upcoming Lunar New year.

More than that, more Chinese get to pack their bags for a long-due vacation as restrictions ease. Yesterday, travel platform Ctrip said searches for popular cross-border destinations had increased 10-fold within half an hour of the travel relaxation news.

As one might have expected, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Thailand and South Korea were the most sought-after destinations.

We know China is opening its door but perhaps we are still not imaginative enough to believe that it would do so within a month after the so-called Zero-COVID measures, which caused shuttered borders to frequent lockdowns fuelled the biggest show of public discontent since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

Now the question is how Beijing would manage to allow its citizens to travel in an orderly manner.

Who doesn’t want Chinese tourists’ dollar, especially in times of economic weakness?

However, it does come with a big uncertainty on whether these tourists would impact the public health system in the world now that a substantial amount of mainlanders are infected.

The future situation is fluid, but we certainly hope that herd immunity would build a solid foundation for the world reopening next year.

I also selfishly hope the virus that people are suffering would be as light as my Christmas flu and live truly up to most people really thought about Covid – it is not a big deal after all.

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EJ Insight writer