Hong Kong is pinning its hopes on reopening the border with the mainland, and understandably so. Three years of pandemic have disrupted cross-border business and social activities and dealt a heavy blow to the economy. This is why the government is pushing ahead with the plan earlier than expected, despite ongoing outbreaks on both sides in recent days. The unsettling circumstances have made preparation for the reopening all the more challenging. Officials have sensibly opted for a quota system in the first stage. The details have yet to be announced, but travellers from both sides are to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests before crossing the border. Depending on the situation, the scale will be gradually expanded, according to Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki, who is coordinating work to ensure a smooth resumption of quarantine-free travel with the mainland as early as Sunday. The allocation of the quotas is an issue of concern. One business group suggested giving citizens with urgent needs priority for an expected 25,000 to 30,000 places, while setting aside some 6,000 for companies registered with the Trade and Industry Department. Other sectors may also have their demands. It is essential that the distribution is seen as reasonable and addresses various needs. No less important is to ensure both sides are ready for the impact arising from the cross-border passenger flow. This covers not only logistical issues such as transport and the operation of checkpoints, but also health risks. Crossing the border used to be a simple affair, with hundreds of thousands of people passing through more than a dozen checkpoints each day. But after three years, re-establishing a seamless operation will be a challenge. Will reopening border with mainland China help Hong Kong’s economy bounce back? This will become even more difficult when the return of visitors may result in more infections and add to the burden of a strained Hong Kong public healthcare system. The city has waited too long for the border to reopen. While many are eager to go north and welcome mainland arrivals with open arms, there is also growing unease among others about the possible health risks. The stakes are so high that authorities on both sides must make the most of the coming days to ensure they are prepared for a smooth and orderly reopening.