Covid-19: China lifts quarantine for international travelers
China lifts mandatory quarantine for overseas travelers on Sunday, ending three years of self-imposed isolation just as it faces a surge in Covid-19 cases at home.
After three years of some of the world’s most draconian restrictions straining its economy and sparking protests across the country, China lifted most of its measures to combat the pandemic last month.
The last act of this dismantling: The strict quarantine in our own hotels, to which all people arriving from abroad have had to submit since March 2020, ends on Sunday.
Originally three weeks, the duration of this quarantine was reduced to one week last summer, and then to five days in November.
The announcement of the end of the quarantine in December prompted Chinese people to plan many overseas trips, leading to a dramatic increase in traffic on booking sites.
But the prospect of a massive influx of Chinese tourists has prompted more than a dozen countries to impose screening tests on travelers from China, where the number of infections has exploded since the abrupt end of the “zero Covid” policy, relentlessly for carried out three years.
A Chinese New Year that worries the authorities
Beijing has condemned the travel restrictions imposed on its nationals as “unacceptable”, although China itself has remained largely closed to foreign tourists and international students since 2020.
Following a crisis meeting of European Union experts on Wednesday, member states were “strongly encouraged” to screen visitors from the world’s most populous country. And the Netherlands and Portugal on Friday became the latest countries to require passengers arriving from China to present a negative Covid-19 test on arrival.
The outbreak is expected to worsen ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday at the end of January, when millions of hard-hit megacities will leave for the countryside to visit their often elderly and vulnerable relatives.