Beginning on January 8, China will no longer compel inbound travellers to undergo the compulsory quarantine despite the growing number of Covid cases. The National Health Commission disclosed this late Monday, which shows its readiness to fully reopen the country’s borders that have been shut since 2020.
Under its zero covid policy, China compels inbound travellers to undergo a five-day quarantine at a facility approved and supervised by the government. Afterwards, the inbound traveller will isolate for another three days at home before going out.
Beginning next month, a Covid pass for inbound travellers will be a negative test conducted within 48 hours before departure.
Since 2020, the Chinese government has also restricted the entry of foreigners into the country. However, following the new arrangement, the process of issuing visas to citizens of other countries coming to work or study in China would be less restrictive, and the government will provide “convenience” for visa applications.
The lifting of the restrictions is good news for citizens of China working and schooling outside the country. Most of them find it difficult to return home after the government’s policy sent the price of flight tickets to the roof. They also find it difficult to pay for the lengthy quarantines and the multiple Covid tests. After three years, most of them that had not returned home for three years are now free to do so.
The return of Tourism
Apart from lifting the restrictions for inbound travellers, the Chinese government has also agreed to allow citizens to travel outside the country as long as it is done in an orderly manner. Citizens travelling for tourism will not be restricted, and they seem to be excited about it already.
“Ctrip, a travel booking site in China, said searches for popular overseas tourist destinations on the platform jumped 10 times within an hour of the announcement of the new policy,” CNN reported.
While flights to and from the country will become easy from January 8, passengers’ entry and exit through the ports will resume gradually.
Three years of lost opportunities
Although most Chinese are excited about the development, some are not happy because of the losses incurred by the country in the last three years after the zero covid policy yielded very little on the economy.
One Chinese journalist wrote: “How many people who used to straddle the borders, from overseas students to workers making a living in Africa, had to change their life plans? How many families had been separated and barred from seeing their loved ones for one last time? How many three years do we have in our lives? These three years have changed us forever.”
The Chinese economy is the second largest economy in the world. However, the government’s handling of COVID has slowed down the growth of the economy and the $17 trillion economy is experiencing its slowest growth rate in almost 50 years.
The government was recently forced to overturn what is possibly the strictest Covid restriction in the world after protesters expressed displeasure over the government’s tough handling of the pandemic.
Despite the shocking increase in the number of Covid cases, the government has downgraded its management of the virus. Experts have predicted that millions of Chinese could contract the virus in the coming months before seeing a decline in the number of cases. However, with the tough decisions being made by the government, one can conclude that President Xi and his men are now ready to open up the economy and live with the virus as other countries have done within the last few years.