London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Jubilant Chinese Rush To Plan Trips Abroad With Covid Quarantine To End

Jubilant Chinese Rush To Plan Trips Abroad With Covid Quarantine To End

In a snap move late Monday, China said that from January 8 inbound travellers would no longer need to quarantine, as it further unwinds hardline virus controls that had torpedoed the economy and sparked nationwide protests.
People in China reacted with joy and rushed to plan trips abroad Tuesday after Beijing said it would scrap mandatory Covid quarantine for overseas arrivals that will end almost three years of self-imposed isolation.

In a snap move late Monday, China said that from January 8 inbound travellers would no longer need to quarantine, as it further unwinds hardline virus controls that had torpedoed the economy and sparked nationwide protests.

Infections have surged nationwide as key pillars of the containment policy have fallen away, with authorities acknowledging the outbreak is "impossible" to track and doing away with much-maligned case tallies.
Beijing also narrowed the criteria by which Covid fatalities are counted last week, a move experts said would

suppress the number of deaths attributable to the virus.

Still, many Chinese reacted with joy to the end of restrictions that have kept the country largely closed off to the world since March 2020.

"I felt like the epidemic is finally over... The travel plans I made three years ago may now become a reality," said Beijing office worker Fan Chengcheng, 27.

A Shanghai resident surnamed Chen said the policy shift "felt like someone has pressed the button to end the movie", adding that it would allow her parents in Britain to visit her more easily.

"Finally, China's going back to normal," she told AFP. "It shows there are people who still care about global commerce and the impact on the Chinese economy."

Another Shanghai local, surnamed Du, said a swifter reopening may help the country reach so-called herd immunity more quickly, adding that there was "no way to avoid" the virus in the eastern megacity.

Online searches for flights abroad surged on the news, with travel platform Tongcheng seeing an 850 percent jump in searches and a ten-fold spike in enquiries about visas, according to state media reports.

Rival platform Trip.com Group said the volume of searches for popular overseas destinations rose by 10 times year-on-year within half an hour of the announcement.

Users were particularly keen on trips to Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and South Korea, it added.

But some Chinese may face hurdles when they do go abroad, with Japan announcing that it would require Covid tests on arrival for travellers from mainland China from Friday.

Rising cases in China, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, were "causing growing concern in Japan".

Beijing's foreign ministry said Tuesday that countries should uphold "scientific and appropriate" disease controls that "should not affect normal personnel exchanges".

'Relief'

The Chinese announcement effectively brought the curtain down on a zero-Covid regime of mass testing, strict lockdowns and long quarantines that has roiled supply chains and buffeted business engagement with the world's second-largest economy.

"The overwhelming view is just relief," said Tom Simpson, managing director for China at the China-Britain Business Council.

"It brings an end to three years of very significant disruption."

An uptick in international trade missions is now expected for next year, he told AFP, although the full resumption of business operations is likely to be "gradual" as airlines slowly bring more flights online and companies tweak their China strategies for 2023.

The EU Chamber of Commerce in China also welcomed the move, saying it will "potentially boost business confidence" and allow executives and workers to travel more freely.

All passengers arriving in China have had to undergo mandatory centralised quarantine since March 2020. That decreased from three weeks to one week in June, and to five days last month.

The end of that rule in January will also see Covid-19 downgraded to a Class B infectious disease from Class A, a formal distinction that allows authorities to adopt looser controls.

Some entry restrictions will remain however, with China still largely suspending the issuance of visas for overseas tourists and students.

Beijing said Tuesday it would "continue to adjust its visa policy for foreigners visiting China in a scientific and dynamic manner in accordance with... the epidemic situation".

Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing that China would "optimise" arrangements for foreign nationals seeking to return to work, conduct business, study abroad or visit relatives.

Winter surge

The government and state media have sought to portray an image of measured calm as Covid finally washes across the country.

But officials in several major cities have said hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have been infected in recent weeks.

Hospitals and crematoriums have been full with patients and victims, according to independent reporting by AFP and other media.

Some studies have projected around one million people could die in China from Covid over the next few months.

The government announced last week that it would effectively stop recording the number of people who were dying of Covid.

And the National Health Commission said Saturday it would no longer publish daily case figures, after they were widely criticised as inaccurate.

Authorities were using data from online surveys, hospital visits, demand for fever medicines and emergency calls to "make up for shortcomings in (officially) reported figures", disease control official Yin Wenwu said at a press briefing Tuesday.

The winter surge comes ahead of major public holidays next month in which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel to their hometowns to reunite with relatives.
Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
The gunman who attempted to assassinate Donald Trump Saturday is 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks
Banksy's Influence on Port Talbot's Street Art Scene
Bodies of Two Men Found in Suitcases on Bristol Bridge, 24-Year-Old Arrested
Kate Middleton to Attend Wimbledon Men's Final Amid Cancer Recovery
Russia's Electronic Warfare Neutralizes Western Weapons in Ukraine
Trump Challenges Biden to Debate and Golf Match
Macron Accuses Israeli Minister of Election Interference
US Senator Highlights Weaknesses in Western Military Industry During Ukraine Conflict
George Clooney Urges Biden to Withdraw from Presidential Race
Political Shift in the UK: A Detailed Analysis of Labour's Victory and Future Prospects
Viktor Orbán's Peace Mission: A Diplomatic Controversy in the EU
India Advocates Peace and Prosperity: PM Modi's Speech in Austria
New UK PM Keir Starmer Reaffirms Strong Support for Ukraine at NATO Summit
Spain PM Pedro Sanchez Denounces Double Standards on Gaza at NATO Summit
UK Police Arrest Suspect in Crossbow Attack After Three Women Killed
Sunita Williams Safe on ISS, to Address Earth on July 10
Biden Affirms Commitment To Presidential Race
France Faces Political Turmoil and Airport Strikes Ahead of Paris Olympics 2024
Putin Hosts PM Modi for a Private Meeting
TSMC: The Taiwanese Chip Giant Valued Over $1 Trillion
Boeing Pleads Guilty Over 737 MAX Crashes
2024 Predicted to Be World's Hottest Year
Iran's President-Elect Masoud Pezeshkian Reiterates Support for Hezbollah
White House Denies Biden Being Treated for Parkinson's Disease
Biden to Meet New UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer
Biden Insists on Continuing Presidential Race Amid Criticism
UK Defence Minister Pledges Enhanced Support to Ukraine
French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal Resigns After Election Setback
Macron Faces New Political Challenges Despite Election Relief
France's Far-Right Falls Short in Parliamentary Elections
Key Figures in France's Left-Wing New Popular Front Bloc
England Reaches Euro 2024 Semifinals After Penalty Shootout Win
Rishi Sunak Apologizes After Historic Tory Defeat
Voter Discontent in Recent UK and French Elections
Trump was recorded attacking Biden: "I kicked the old pile of shit"
Understanding the MRP Method in UK Elections
US Officials Resign Over Biden's Gaza Policy
First-Time Immigrant Voters Aim to Influence UK Elections 2024
Reform UK Receives Major Donations from Brexit Campaign Group
Tata Steel Strike Called Off, Paving the Way for Crucial Talks
Sir Keir Starmer's Acceptance of Substantial Gifts from UK Donors
New Zealand Introduces Law to Make Tech Giants Pay for News
NASA Astronauts Stranded in Space Due to Boeing's Starliner Issues
OpenAI and Microsoft Sued for Copyright Infringement
Starmer Vows to Renegotiate Brexit Deal Amid Far-Right Rise in France
Monster Hurricane Beryl Hits Caribbean as Category Five Storm
EU Charges Meta with Breaching Antitrust Rules
Biden's Debate Performance Unites Democrats and Republicans
Prison Officer Faces Court Over Inmate Sex Video
Jude Bellingham's Iconic Euro 2024 Goal: A Historic Moment for England
×