China is set to resume issuing visas to tourists and other foreigners, a significant step in the country’s move to rejoin the world and leave its stringent COVID-19 restrictions behind.

The shift comes into force from Wednesday, China’s embassy in the U.S. said in a statement. It will also see visa-free entry into Guangdong province resumed for foreigners in groups from Hong Kong and Macau, and for those on cruise ships stopping in Shanghai.

Reopening to tourists is a highly symbolic sign China is leaving its absolutist "zero-COVID" regime behind. The strategy, which involved frequent lockdowns, mass testing and an effectively closed border weighed on economic growth, particularly last year. It was abruptly scrapped in early December, after protests across multiple Chinese cities and as the economic hit worsened.