As Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing stick ever more closely to "COVID-zero" principles, no matter the economic cost, Hong Kong is methodically moving toward opening up to the rest of the world.

On Tuesday, the Hong Kong government brought forward a plan to ease social distancing rules, allowing people to go mask-free when exercising outdoors and doubling the maximum number of diners per table to eight. That came two days after Hong Kong ended a two-year ban on visits by all non-residents and eased some restrictions on inbound flights.

The moves reflect a broader push by influential figures in the city to focus on retaining Hong Kong’s appeal as an international financial hub, particularly as President Xi Jinping’s rigid COVID-zero strategy leaves little prospect of opening the land border with the mainland.