China ends quarantine requirements for inbound travelers
China has lifted quarantine requirements for inbound travelers, ending nearly three years of self-imposed isolation, even as the country grapples with a surge in Covid cases.
On Sunday, January 8, the first to arrive expressed relief at not having to undergo the grueling quarantines that have been a part of life in zero-Covid China.
In Hong Kong, where the border with mainland China has reopened after years of closure, more than 400,000 people are expected to travel north over the coming eight weeks.
Beijing last month began a dramatic dismantling of a harsh zero-Covid policy that had enforced mandatory quarantines and punitive lockdowns.
On Sunday, January 8, the first arrivals expressed relief at not having to undergo the grueling quarantines
400,000 people should travel to the Hong Kong border in the next eight weeks
The policy had a huge impact on the world’s second-largest economy, stoking resentment across society that sparked nationwide protests shortly before it was eased.
At Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on Sunday, a woman surnamed Pang told AFP she was amazed by the ease of travel.
“I think it’s really good that the policy has changed now, it’s really humane,” she told AFP.
“It’s a necessary step, I think. Covid has now normalized and after that hurdle everything will be smooth,” she said.
Families were finally reunited as China lifted quarantine requirements for inbound travelers, ending nearly three years of self-imposed isolation, even as the country grapples with a surge in Covid cases
A woman lifts a young relative in a panda suit over a barrier to hug him as she exits a flight at Beijing Airport’s international arrivals area after restrictions were lifted today
Chinese rushed to plan overseas trips after officials announced last month that the quarantine would be lifted, sending inquiries on popular travel websites skyrocketing.
But the expected surge in visitor numbers has prompted more than a dozen countries to impose mandatory Covid tests on travelers from the world’s most populous nation as it battles its worst-ever outbreak.
China has called travel restrictions imposed by other countries “unacceptable” although it continues to largely bar foreign tourists and international students from traveling to the country.
China’s Covid outbreak is expected to worsen as it enters the Lunar New Year holiday this month, when millions of hard-hit megacities are expected to travel to the countryside to visit vulnerable elderly relatives.
The Chinese rushed to plan overseas trips after officials announced last month that the quarantine would be lifted
A man greets his girlfriend in the international arrivals hall at Beijing Capital International Airport as China lifts quarantine requirements for international arrivals
And Beijing has been scrambling to contain criticism of its chaotic path out of zero-Covid. Its Twitter-like Weibo service said it recently suspended 1,120 accounts for “crimes against experts and scholars.”
As of Sunday at Beijing Airport, the barriers that once kept international and domestic arrivals separate were gone, as were the “big whites” – workers in hazmat suits who have long been a part of life in zero-Covid China.
A woman who was there to greet a friend arriving from Hong Kong said the first thing they would do was eat a meal.
“It’s so great, we haven’t seen each other for so long,” Wu, 20, told AFP.
“They study over there, and we can meet directly in Beijing… It’s been a year,” she added.
At Shanghai airport, a man surnamed Yang, who arrived from the United States, said he didn’t know the rules had changed.
“I had no idea,” he told AFP news agency.
Passengers on a plane from China’s capital Beijing arrive and head to the testing area for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo
Passengers arrive at Schiphol Airport outside of Amsterdam from a flight from China
Passengers arriving from China will have to show a negative Covid-19 test to enter the Netherlands from next week
“I’d be very lucky if I just had to quarantine for two days, turns out I don’t have to quarantine at all and no paperwork, we just went out like that, just like in the past,” he added.
“I’m pretty glad I don’t have to quarantine,” another woman, who was picked up by her boyfriend, who declined to give her name, told AFP.
“Who wants quarantine? No one.’
In China’s southern semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, visitors poured across the border as travel restrictions with mainland China were eased.
Hong Kong’s recession-hit economy is desperate to reconnect to its biggest source of growth, and families look forward to Lunar New Year reunions.
Official data showed about 410,000 people in Hong Kong planned to travel north over the next two months, while about 7,000 people in the mainland planned to travel south on Sunday.
At the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint near Shenzhen, a mainland Chinese postgraduate surnamed Zeng told AFP they were glad to be able to cross without further restrictions.
“I’m happy as long as I don’t have to quarantine – it was so unbearable,” Zeng told AFP
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11611473/China-ends-quarantine-requirements-inbound-travellers.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 China ends quarantine requirements for inbound travelers