With rising COVID cases and massive pressure on hospitals in China, the Chinese government imposed COVID zero policy. Which made ten days of quarantine mandatory for visitors from abroad; it was relaxed to eight days on 11th November 2020. 80 percent of the Chinese population was reported to be affected by the infection in the first 20 days of December, according to the minutes from National Health Commission in China, which along with the ongoing recession, had a tremendous impact on their economy.
The Chinese Government has decided to open its borders to people around the world, dropping their quarantine restrictions from the 8th of January 2023. While that spurred a surge in bookings from the country, which moved to a virtual halt during COVID zero, other countries keep their concerns regarding these relaxations.
Countries from Thailand to Japan have depended on the vast majority of visitors from China. Tourists from the world’s largest outbound travel market in 2019, with global tourists’ spending of over $255 billion, are believed to be the “Spark plug for Thailand’s tourism recovery,” said Bill Barnett, managing director of hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks.
While the flight level to and from China has only been 8 percent of what it used to be pre-pandemic, they are expected to be restored to pre-pandemic levels by June 2023, as hoped by Malaysia Airlines and Vietnamese budget carrier VietJet Aviation. Airlines are embracing the upcoming Chinese influx by preparing for a significant increase in capacity.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses as countries like the USA, Japan, Italy, Taiwan, and India have complained about the lack of transparency regarding the COVID data coming out from the Chinese Government. They have shown their worry about the possibility of a variant spreading out from China overseas due to a high number of reported cases there, which drives them to impose precautionary measures and additional testing requirements for travelers coming from China to resist the possible spread.
While other countries have been questioning the reliability of the data given, China has pledged to increase the supply of life-saving equipment such as ICU beds and ventilators and retrofit quality facilities into hospitals treating COVID patients.
The USA has made it mandatory to show negative test results regardless of nationality. Travelers from China are, however, required to show either an antigen test or negative PCR, federal health officials said Wednesday. Airlines will need to verify the test results prior to boarding flights to the US.
Airlines in Japan are required to conduct a COVID test upon arrival, which will result in a ten-day quarantine if positive. Limited airports and flights are allocated for Chinese passengers, and airlines are strictly instructed not to increase their capacity to limit their arrival.
Dr Mansukh Mandaviya from Indian Health Ministry posted on Twitter about the mandatory RT-PCR tests for passengers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand from 1st January 2023. Taiwan has also made an on-arrival PCR test mandatory for flights. Which, if positive, will lead to a five-day quarantine.
On the other hand, Italy, being the first European country to be walloped by Corona in early 2020, is urging other states in the region to consider a joint testing agreement as they are prone to get affected due to open-border Schengen Area. Italy itself has imposed a rapid COVID test for passengers coming in from China. The country was recently alarmed when the authorities from Milan reported almost half the passengers from two flights directly from China reported positive for COVID without any visible symptoms.