It all started with China’s dumping its strict “zero-COVID” policy beginning of December 2022 and starting to ease pandemic measures, the last biggest economy to opt for “living with Covid” following three years of lockdowns, closed borders, and mandatory quarantine.
Following the new decision, China is now facing an explosive spike in infections.
On December 26, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) announced that it is downgrading the coronavirus from a Class A infectious disease to Class B to further ease measures in the country. NHC also announced that daily epidemic information will no longer be released.
China also announced that it will resume issuing ordinary visas and passports in another big step away from anti-virus controls that isolated the country. China stopped issuing visas to foreigners and passports to its own people at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
The latest decision could send an influx of free-spending Chinese tourists to revenue-starved destinations in Asia and Europe for Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 22. As it presents a danger to spread COVID-19 as infections surge in China, countries one by one introducing new regulations for travelers from China.
New Regulations for Travelers, by Country
The United States
The Biden administration announced that travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau must present negative Covid-19 tests before entering the United States.
Travelers flying from China to the US will need a negative test no more than 48 hours before their flight.
The requirement for testing will apply to air passengers regardless of their nationality and vaccination status. It will also apply to travelers from China who enter the United States through a third country, and to those who connect through the United States to other destinations.
Spain joins in asking travelers from China for a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. The country will implement airport controls requiring all passengers coming from China to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of a full vaccination course.
India is making COVID-19 testing mandatory for passengers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Hong Kong. Passengers arriving India from these countries will be subjected to tests. Passengers with fever or those testing positive would be quarantined.
Italy makes coronavirus tests mandatory for air passengers coming from China.
Test points will be reactivated at Milan Malpensa and Rome Fiumicino airports for those from China and whose situation is considered suspicious.
South Korea announced on December 30 that it will impose mandatory COVID-19 tests on travelers from China. South Korea would also restrict issuing short-term visas for Chinese nationals until the end of next month and temporarily halt increasing flights from China.
Effective December 30, Japan will require a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for travelers from mainland China. Those who test positive will be required to quarantine for seven days.
On December 30, Malaysia announced several measures for all incoming travelers, including from those from China.
Those who are found to be feverish, symptomatic or have self-declared (COVID-19) symptoms will be referred to a quarantine center, or to the health authorities for further checks.
At the same time, all those with a history of traveling to China within 14 days of their arrival will be required to undergo an RTK-Antigen test, and samples will be sent for genome testing if they are positive for COVID-19.
The measures also apply to those “who have close contact with individuals who have traveled to China within 14 days, or exhibit influenza-like illnesses (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI).
All passengers on direct flights from China, as well as by sea transportation at two offshore islands, will have to take PCR tests upon arrival, starting on January 1.
The French government on December 30 announced that travelers from China are required to show a negative COVID test fewer than 48 hours old with their boarding pass, with random tests carried out on passengers on arrival.
From 5 January, people flying from China to England will be asked to take a pre-departure test. In addition, a sample of arrivals will be tested for COVID to enhance existing measures to monitor for new variants, according to the Department of Health.
In addition, the UK Health Security Agency is launching surveillance from Jan. 8 which will see a sample of passengers arriving in England from China tested at the point of their arrival.
Canada announced Saturday it will ask passengers coming from China, Hong Kong and Macao to submit temporary negative coronavirus tests ahead of their flights to the country.
The Canadian Health Ministry said all air travelers from those locations “will need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result, taken no more than two days before their departure, to the airline prior to boarding.”
The requirement for travelers 2 years or older will take effect on January 5. The measure will be in place for 30 days and authorities will reassess it as more data and evidence becomes available.
Morocco will impose an entry ban on travelers from China beginning January 3.
Qatar on January 2, 2023 required all travelers from China to present negative COVID-19 tests before entering the country.
A statement by the Health Ministry said the new regulation will be applied regardless of the traveler’s vaccination status and that the test must be taken within 48 hours ahead of departure to the Gulf country.
The Australian Government introduces pre-departure testing for COVID-19 for people traveling to Australia from China, including Hong Kong and Macau.
From 12:01am on Thursday 5 January 2023, travelers arriving in Australia from China, including Hong Kong and Macau will be required to undertake a COVID-19 test within a 48-hour period prior to their scheduled departure and show evidence of a negative test result when traveling to Australia.
Passengers should be prepared to provide evidence of a negative test before boarding their flight, and passengers may need to provide evidence of a negative test again once they have arrived in Australia.
A negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or Nucleic Acid Amplification Technology (NAA) test result conducted within a 48-hour period prior to when a passenger is scheduled to depart China, including Hong Kong or Macau will be accepted.
If a RAT test is used it must be administered or supervised by a medical practitioner.
Austria announced on January 5 that passengers traveling from China will be required to test for the coronavirus.
Controls will be carried out by airlines before boarding a plane in China.
Greece will impose a negative coronavirus test for passengers coming from China because of the increase in cases.
Local reports showed that in addition to the negative tests 48 hours before departure, passengers will be asked to use masks with high protection at Greek airports.
It was also reported that a re-evaluation on the subject will be made Jan. 19.
The Netherlands on Jan. 7 joined other European Union countries requiring passengers arriving from China to show a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country.
The measure will come into force on 10 January.
Finland will require people coming from China to submit a negative COVID-19 test. The test must be taken no more than 48 hours before the flight and will be checked by the airlines before boarding.
Passengers and personnel on all flights to and from China will also be required to wear masks.
Thailand is welcoming all visitors, a visitor source market may require incoming visitors including their own nationals returning home to have a negative PCR result.
Thus, Thailand is aiming to correspond with the rules of these countries – among them are China and India. Therefore, passengers from a country that has requirements for RT-PCR tests must have health insurance covering the treatment of COVID-19 in Thailand.
Latvia has joined the EU’s recommendations to impose health and hygiene measures on travelers from and to China due to a spike in coronavirus cases.
Ministry of Health Communications Office advised all passengers who take international flights from or to China to cover their faces with masks.
Also, passengers arriving from China to EU member states, including those in transit through third countries, may be required to present a negative coronavirus test in English or the language of the respective member state.
Sources: AA, Reuters