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Monday, February 6, 2023

China Is Going to Stop Requiring Covid Quarantine for Foreign Visitors

In one of the most important moves China has taken toward reopening since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the nation made the announcement on Monday that visitors from other countries will no longer be needed to undergo quarantine upon arrival.

According to the announcement made by China’s National Health Commission on January 8, visitors entering the country would be required to demonstrate merely a negative polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test completed within 48 hours before to departure. In addition to this, restrictions placed on the number of incoming planes will be loosened.

Because to the limits on travel, the nation with the most people on the planet was cut off from the rest of the globe for almost three years. In the year 2020, entry into China was almost impossible for foreigners, and even once they were permitted back in a few months later, it was often primarily for the sake of doing business or gathering with relatives.

Even some Chinese nationals were initially unable to return to their homes, and tourists who were permitted entry were compelled to undergo lengthy health screening and quarantine at their own cost, sometimes for as long as two months at a time.

The revelation made on Monday was the most recent about-face in China’s “zero COVID” approach to the virus. For years, Beijing has been working to eradicate infections, but this announcement marked a departure from that strategy. The programme, which comprised severe and lengthy lockdowns of hundreds of millions of people, had the effect of destroying the economy and stirring up popular unrest.

Protests broke out all throughout the nation in November, after an incident in Xinjiang that resulted in the deaths of ten people and in which many people suspected that a COVID lockdown had impeded attempts to rescue those trapped inside the building. Within a matter of days, the government started easing off on the limitations.

According to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, the loosening of travel restrictions “essentially indicates the definitive end of zero COVID.”

However, despite appearances, the new steps will not result in China flinging wide its borders. The administration has not provided a timetable for when it would restart the issuance of tourist visas; nevertheless, all tourist visas that were still active when the epidemic began have been revoked. Without providing any elaboration, officials said that they would “further optimise” the process by which foreign nationals might apply for visas to enter the country for the purposes of doing business, studying, or attending family reunions.

In addition, Chinese government representatives did not disclose how many planes will be permitted to land in the nation. According to the flight tracker VariFlight, the number of foreign flights to China in November was 6% lower than it was in 2019.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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