China Reopens to Foreigners After Years of COVID Restrictions

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China has finally removed its long standing strict coronavirus travel restrictions for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The easing of the restrictions on January 8 means that foreign citizens are now able to travel to China without restrictions for the first time in 3 years.

According to the state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN), the first foreign flights to arrive under the new rules landed in airports in Guangzhou and Shenzhen in the early hours of the day restrictions were lifted.

Passengers arriving in China are no longer subject to COVID-19 tests on arrival. Nor do they have to undergo a 5-day quarantine at centralized government facilities, it reported.

Foreigners are now able to travel to China for business trips or to visit family in the country. Travel for tourism purposes remains prohibited. However, it is expected that the government will review China’s visa policy regarding tourists in the near future.

China Reopens to Foreigners After Years of COVID Restrictions

COVID Travel Restrictions Also Lifted for Chinese People

The removal of the mandatory quarantine for arriving passengers also means that Chinese nationals are able to travel abroad without having to isolate at a government facility upon returning to the country.

The lifting of the restrictions coincides with Chunyun, the upcoming Lunar New Year public holiday, which begins on January 21 and lasts for 40 days. This will be the first Lunar New Year travel period without restrictions since 2020.

Additionally, Hong Kong travel restrictions from the Chinese mainland were also significantly eased on January 8. It’s now possible for up to 50,000 residents of Hong Kong per day to cross into China through 3 land checkpoints, if they first register online.

According to public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), a total of 410,000 residents had already registered to make the land journey by the Saturday before the new rules came into effect.

Another 10,000 residents of SAR Hong Kong are permitted to enter China daily by air, bridge, or sea without the need to pre-register. More than 45,000 people had traveled across by ferry by 8pm local time on January 8, according to the South China Morning Post.

As a result, the Chinese Ministry of Transport is estimating an increase of nearly 100% in trips to and from China over the next 40 days – or roughly 2 billion journeys in total.

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