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China to end quarantine for travelers

Photo credit: Unsplash
Photo credit: Unsplash

Image Source: Bloomberg

Officials said that China would end the travel quarantine on January 8, which would be the last major change to the country’s “zero-Covid” policy.

After closing its borders for almost three years, the country will once again let people in who have work or study permits or who want to visit family.

The immigration authority said Tuesday that it will be easier for Chinese people to travel abroad.

Since the restrictions were lifted, Covid has spread quickly.

Reports say that hospitals are too full, and older people are dying there.

Officials have stopped sharing Covid data, so the daily number of cases and deaths is unknown.

Last week, Beijing had more than 4,000 new cases of Covid every day, but only a few people died.

It said Sunday that it would stop making case numbers public. On the other hand, the British health data company Airfinity found that China had more than a million infections and 5,000 deaths every day.

China is the last major economy in the world to adopt a “living with Covid” policy. As a result, for the past three years, Covid cases and contacts have been locked down and forced to stay in quarantine.

The so-called “zero-Covid” strategy wrecked the economy and made people sick of restrictions and tests they had to take over and over again.

In November, people protested against President Xi Jinping because they didn’t like the program. Just a few weeks later, the rules for Covid were dropped.

Closed borders are still the last significant limitation. Since March 2020, anyone who goes to China must stay in quarantine at a government facility for up to three weeks. Recently, that time frame has been cut down to five days.

The National Health Commission, on the other hand, said that Covid would no longer be a Class A disease as of January 8.

This meant there would no longer be a quarantine period, but new travelers would still have to take a PCR test. The number of flights into China per day would also be increased.

Authorities also said they would “optimize” the visa process for people from other countries who want to go to China for work, school, or family reunions.

Officials have said that a pilot program for international cruise ships will start. However, it still needs to be clarified if this includes tourist visas.

The immigration authority says that Chinese people who want to travel outside of China can start applying for passports on January 8.

Statista says that 155 million Chinese people left their country in 2019 before the epidemic. By 2020, though, this number will have dropped to 20 million.

Many Chinese people are glad they can now travel outside of China again.

Within hours of the news, the country’s most popular online travel sites reported a big jump in customers. Many people plan to visit family and friends during the Chinese New Year, which starts on January 22.

As the number of Covid cases in China reaches a peak, many people online are worried that borders will open again.

People in places with cold winters, like Beijing and Shanghai, say they are running out of flu and cold medicine.

Since crematoriums are already too full, hundreds of deaths will likely go unnoticed.

Authorities in Beijing say they want to give out Paxlovid tablets made by Pfizer to lessen the severity of illnesses and take pressure off hospitals. However, the Global Times talked to health centers on Monday, and they said that the medicine hadn’t been given yet.

The rush to book flights in and out of China

When Beijing said that its borders would open the following month again, Chinese people rushed to make plans to travel abroad.

The immigration agency says that Chinese people who want to travel abroad can apply for passports again on January 8.

It comes after it was said on Monday that strict quarantine rules for new arrivals that had been in place for almost three years would be eased.

Since then, more people have been going to travel websites.

But Chinese tourists will only be able to go to a few countries without problems.

Japan, one of the most popular tourist destinations for Chinese people, has said that all Chinese visitors must show a negative Covid test when they arrive, or they will be quarantined for seven days.

When arriving in India, travelers from China and some other countries must also show a negative Covid test. This was the case before Beijing eased restrictions.

China is fighting a new wave of infections at the same time that travel restrictions are being eased. This is the last part of China’s “zero-Covid” policy.

President Xi Jinping was the target of rare public protests in November because of a policy people didn’t like. As a result, restrictions on Covid were eased all over the country.

But the number of Covid cases went up, and there were reports of hospitals being too full and running out of medicine.

The announcement about travel out of China came from a Monday statement, which removed quarantine rules for tourists coming to China. It also eliminated a limit on how many flights could happen each day.

On the same day, the National Health Commission said that Covid would officially change from a Class A to a Class B disease on January 8.

Before travel laws were made more accessible, people were strongly discouraged from going abroad. However, Dragon Trail International, a company that helps businesses with marketing, says that selling outbound group and package travel has been banned.

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Within half an hour of the news that China’s borders would reopen on Monday, Chinese media reported that searches for popular destinations had increased by ten times compared to last year. This was based on data from the travel website Trip.com.

Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea were the most popular places.