China has halved the quarantine time for foreign tourists, the National Health Commission announced on Tuesday. Now, anyone visiting the country will be isolated in a hotel for seven days and three days under observation at a home. Before, it was 21 days of isolation.
Beijing closed international borders at the start of the pandemic more than two years ago and limited the number of flights arriving in the country in a bid to reduce imported cases.
Foreign tourists had to undergo a painful 21-day quarantine in a hotel or specialized center. According to the new Covid control and prevention policy, isolation is now “centralized”, reduced to seven days.
Still, the few international flights remain frequently subject to cancellations as Beijing enforces a system whereby routes are temporarily suspended based on the number of passengers testing positive.
Under the latest guidelines, the new quarantine period also applies to people identified as close contact with the infected.
China is the last major economy to maintain a “Covid zero” strategy to stop the spread of the coronavirus, through mass testing and selective quarantines.
In early June, the country slightly eased visa restrictions for foreign residents, as well as their family members who wish to visit them. On Friday, civil aviation said it was in talks with several countries to gradually increase the number of flights to China.
In recent weeks, international students from several countries, including India and Pakistan, have been allowed to return to China for the first time since the pandemic. However, most analysts estimate that the recovery in tourism is still a long way off.
At the end of the year, the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will be held, during which President Xi Jinping is expected to win a third term.
Given the proximity of this event, considered politically sensitive, the authorities want to avoid any epidemic outbreak.
China has also severely restricted foreign travel for its citizens. Since late 2021, Chinese people can no longer take “non-urgent and unnecessary” travel, and most passport renewals have been suspended.
While in recent months there have been voices in favor of relaxing health restrictions, President Xi called in May for the Covid zero policy to be maintained.
With information from international agencies
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