China’s latest Covid policies have loosened the restrictions for travel between the UK and China somewhat, but travellers should be aware of changing Covid restrictions on the ground
On 11 November, the China National Health Commission released a list of 20 adjustments to the country’s Covid-19 prevention and control policies. The adjustments relate to both the domestic-level implementation of Covid policies and international travel, including shortening the length of hotel quarantine for international arrivals and reducing the pre-travel PRC test requirements.
Below are the policy adjustments that relate to international travel:
- The quarantine requirement for inbound travellers has been reduced to 5 days of centralised (i.e., hotel) quarantine plus 3 days of home quarantine (previously 7 days of centralised quarantine and 3 days of ‘home health monitoring’)
- Only one negative nucleic acid test is required within 48 hours of boarding a flight to China
- The circuit breaker mechanism for inbound flights, which saw flights cancelled if they had a certain number of positive Covid cases, has been abolished
- According to the Chinese Embassy in the UK, there are no additional prevention and control requirements for people with uncertain test results, close contacts, a history of Covid infection or suspected symptoms. The above groups can now apply for the health code based on a negative nucleic acid test report within 48 hours before departure.
Read the latest notice on pre-travel testing requirements from the Chinese Embassy in the UK here.
Domestically, quarantine for close contacts was also reduced to 5 days of centralised quarantine plus 3 days of home quarantine. In addition, secondary contacts (close contacts of close contacts) no longer need to be identified. The categorisation of Covid risk areas has been simplified to just “high risk” and “low risk” (i.e., Covid cases present vs no Covid cases present) and mass testing across whole districts or even cities has been discouraged unless the origin of new infections is particularly unclear. The apparent goal of these adjustments is to avoid sweeping lockdowns for one or two Covid cases.
These policy adjustments do seem to make China’s Covid rules slightly less draconian. However, as case numbers increase across China in November 2022, it is likely that the implementation of these policies will vary at the local level, so both domestic and international travellers are cautioned to stay abreast of the latest developments.