China will be scrapping its quarantine rules for overseas arrivals starting Jan. 8 2023, the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China (NHC) announced on Monday (Dec. 26).
Move away from zero-Covid to living with Covid
Under the country's new measures, travellers would only need to present a negative PCR test within 48 hours before departure instead of having five days of centralised quarantine followed by three days of home monitoring as mandated in its previous rules.
This is the latest measure taken by China as it began to loosen its Covid restriction earlier this month, signifying the country's shift from its zero-Covid policy that has closed off its border to the outside world for the last three years.
Chinese citizens would also be allowed to travel out of the country. No further details were provided, however. Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Australia and the U.S. are among the top 10 destinations that the Chinese would like to visit the most.
New measures for international travellers
According to the new national health quarantine law,
- Infectious disease quarantine measures will no longer be taken against inbound travellers and goods,
- Passengers must still wear masks during boarding, and
- Travellers with a negative Covid result can enter China without applying for a health code, and can simply fill in their results on the customs health declaration card.
The measures will take effect from Jan. 8, when China removes Covid from a class A infectious disease and categorises it under class B.
The country's loosening of quarantine rules may boost domestic tourism revenue, which had seen a decline due to the pandemic.
There is a reported rise in the Asia market as China officially announced the end of quarantine for inbound travellers, according to CNBC.
Surge in cases
On the same day China announced it would lift its quarantine measures, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasised that "governments at all levels should further intensify their efforts to effectively guarantee the needs of the masses for medical treatment and anti-epidemic supplies".
Xi also stressed the necessity to carry out health campaigns in a "targeted manner" that aligns with the country's values.
Currently, the country is facing a surge in Covid cases since it eased its zero-Covid policy.
In Beijing alone, Covid-designated clinics are filling up while crematoriums reported a surge in demand.
There are also reports of staff shortages, and many Chinese doctors and nurses were made to work even when they were infected with Covid.
On Sunday (Dec. 25), NHC announced that it will stop releasing the numbers of daily Covid cases to the public. Any relevant information in regard to Covid will be released by China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instead.
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