Shenzhen-based doctor Michael To Kai-tsun takes a selfie at the Shenzhen Bay Control Point after successfully traveling to and from Hong Kong within a two-day period. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

As quarantine-free cross-border travel resumed on Sunday, the bustling flow of people between the neighboring cities of Hong Kong and Shenzhen is back, benefiting residents on both sides of the border and satisfying previously suppressed demand. 

On Sunday and Monday, 63,259 passengers used the three land checkpoints to travel between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Shenzhen government data showed.

Michael To Kai-tsun, a consultant doctor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology and assistant chief executive at the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, is very excited about the news. 

Before the pandemic, he commuted between the two cities, but he has had to stay longer each time in Shenzhen over the past three years. “I haven’t seen my parents for almost half a year, so I immediately went back to Hong Kong on Saturday after the announcement of the resumption of normal cross-border travel,” he said.

He came back to work in Shenzhen on Monday morning. “The process at the checkpoint took about 10 minutes and was very smooth,” he said, adding that it took almost the same amount of time as it did before the pandemic. 

“I will go back to Hong Kong again for the Spring Festival holiday and then bring my family to visit friends in Shenzhen,” he said. The only thing he worries about is the quota for cross-border travel, as many people are expecting to be reunited with their family during the festival. The daily quota for people traveling in either direction between Hong Kong and the mainland is currently 60,000.

Relatives are not the only ones missing him. His patients in Hong Kong, especially those with rare orthopedic diseases, have been expecting to see him. He said they were only able to communicate online before, but this time he has made appointments with some patients.

The hospital is also planning more cross-border training programs and offline meetings with international professionals.

“Our hospital has introduced several Hong Kong-approved medical devices in the last three years, which need experienced doctors from Hong Kong to operate them or to teach Shenzhen doctors how to operate them. It will be much more convenient for the professional exchange with the reopening of the border,” he said. 

Chan Sing speaks at a GBA-themed reading-sharing session in Shenzhen in June 2022. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Reconnection for business

Businesspeople and entrepreneurs are also among the beneficiaries of the resumption of normal cross-border travel. 

Over the last three years, Chan Sing from Hong Kong has been staying in Shenzhen to manage his startups and incubators, and has been helping Hong Kong youth start their own businesses in Shenzhen. He has returned to Hong Kong only once a year.

“When I heard about the news of normal travel resumption, I decided to go back to Hong Kong as soon as possible,” he said. 

He will attend an event in Hong Kong on Wednesday and sign a strategic partnership agreement with the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, aimed at promoting entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

On Thursday, he will visit Shenzhen again to assist several Hong Kong startup teams, and then return to Hong Kong five days later for a company dinner to celebrate Lunar New Year.

He is overjoyed to see the border reopen. “Many works we initiated during the pandemic can kick off now. Some partners who were waiting for the reopening of the border now can finally pay a visit to Shenzhen very soon,” he said.