Ever since he became chief executive in July, John Lee has made clear his priorities: revive the economy, end COVID-19 restrictions responsible for cutting off Hong Kong’s links with the rest of the world and reopen the border with mainland China.
He has made much progress. By winning Beijing’s trust, he was given a free hand to deal with COVID-19 without having to follow the mainland’s "zero-Covid" policies. Once in office, he quickly eased restrictions. By Dec. 29, all restrictions were lifted aside from mask wearing. There was an explosion of joy as people celebrated the holidays without having to worry about tests, quarantines, close contacts, vaccine passes, or how many could sit at one table.
The easing of COVID-19 restrictions was accompanied by talks with the mainland on reopening the border, closed for almost three years. The first phase of reopening is now expected on Jan. 8. Reopening will have a major impact, as throngs of visitors return to pump up the city’s economy, which is now in recession.