China Scraps Quarantine for International Travelers from Jan 8

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The Chinese government will drop the mandatory quarantine for inbound international travelers from January 8, Reuters reported citing China’s National Health Commission (NHC).

Since the pandemic outbreak in March 2020, visitors to China have had to quarantine in a dedicated facility for two weeks. Subsequently, the government extended the isolation period to 21 or more days for some travelers before the country started cutting quarantine times this summer. Per current regulations, NHC requires five days of quarantine at a dedicated hotel followed by three days of self-isolation at home.

News China Scraps Quarantine for International Travelers from Jan 8
China Scraps Quarantine for International Travelers from Jan 8

As of January 8, incoming travelers should show a negative Covid-19 test result obtained within 48 before departure. Also, travelers would not be required to apply for a clear health code.

Beijing also intends to ease visa arrangements for foreigners to re-enter the country for work, business, study, or visiting relatives. Furthermore, the authorities noted that NHC would stop tracking close contacts of infected patients, scrap the designation of Covid-19 risk areas, and abandon pandemic measures that negatively affected the imports of goods.

The government also plans to resume the possibility of Chinese citizens to travel abroad “in an orderly manner.” Locals were not allowed to leave the country for other than strictly business purposes during the pandemic.

Beijing is yet to present a timeline or details on implementing the updated policy for the revival of outbound tourism for Chinese citizens depending on the Covid-19 situation and the capacity of domestic services.

According to the travel booking site Ctrip, cited by CNN, searches for international tourist destinations on the platform jumped ten times an hour after the announcement of new rules.

In addition, the government intends to remove the restrictions on airlines over the number of international flights and passenger capacity, NHC said. However, wearing face masks on the incoming flight to China remains mandatory.

In 2019, China recorded 670 million international trips in and out of the mainland, while in 2021, their number plunged to 128 million, CNBC reported citing data from the National Immigration Administration.

The move is a significant shift toward reopening the mainland’s borders after almost three years of closure. Earlier this month, Beijing unexpectedly scrapped most of the coronavirus restrictions after the economy slowed this year. The strict regime locked down Shanghai and other parts of the country for nearly two months. The government also faced mass protests nationwide against the stringent measures.

Meanwhile, coronavirus infections surged, reaching 4,000 new infections per day. The actual statistics about the new coronavirus cases still need to be discovered as the government stopped releasing Covid-19 data. However, according to the British health data company Airfinity, China was experiencing more than a million infections and 5,000 deaths a day, the BBC reported.

The Japanese PM Fumio Kishida told Reuters on Tuesday that Tokyo will require a negative coronavirus test upon arrival for travelers from China due to the virus’s rapid spread in the mainland.

Passengers who test positive will need to quarantine for a week. The new measures will take effect on December 30, Kishida added. In addition, the Japanese government also intends to limit applications from airlines to increase flights to China, the PM noted.

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