Authorities in mainland China are maintaining border restrictions, including testing requirements, and domestic restrictions in specific areas amid ongoing efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials have lifted most internal commercial and transport restrictions nationwide, though controls are highly likely in areas where COVID-19 outbreaks occur.
The government continues to rate locations across the country based on the level of COVID-19 activity. The following risk designations are in place:
Low risk: Locations with no new confirmed COVID-19 cases and no confirmed cases within 14 consecutive days
Medium risk: Areas where COVID-19 activity does not exceed 50 cases within 14 days, or more than 50 cases have occurred but not within 14 days; no clusters reported within two weeks
High risk: Places where new confirmed COVID-19 cases surpass 50, and a cluster has been reported within 14 days
Officials could increase the risk rating for a location at short notice if there are new outbreaks. Individuals with recent travel history in high- and medium-risk areas face travel, movement, and gathering restrictions. Most provincial and municipal governments require passengers from medium-risk zones to undergo quarantine and testing. Local governments are highly likely to tighten movement and business restrictions in medium- and high-risk areas; those exiting such areas must generally have negative COVID-19 test results before traveling.
TransportHealth checks are ongoing at airports, train stations, and subway stations, increasing travel times. Operators in some major cities require health codes to use public transport. Officials are likely to erect roadblocks and checkpoints on routes into any high- and medium-risk areas of cities and counties in response to future outbreaks. Flight disruptions are also possible in designated medium-risk areas.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) manages international airline flight volume based on COVID-19 testing outcomes for passengers. If a foreign carrier achieves three weeks with no passengers testing positive, officials will permit one more flight on pre-existing routes. If five passengers of an airline test positive, CAAC will suspend the carrier's operations for one week; if 10 of the airline's passengers test positive, the suspension will last four weeks. China and US regulators continue to limit available flights from each other's countries to eight per week. Authorities also restrict Chinese airlines' international operations and limit capacity on aircraft. Some airlines continue to suspend services to and from mainland China due to significantly decreased demand.
Travel RestrictionsAuthorities are maintaining a ban on foreign nationals traveling from specific countries, including Belgium, France, Russia, the Philippines, India, Italy, Bangladesh, the UK, Ukraine, and Ethiopia. The restrictions do not apply to Chinese nationals, foreign diplomatic passport holders, and individuals with C visas. Foreign nationals from other countries with valid residence permits for work, visiting family, and personal matters currently can re-enter China. Specially designated foreign workers with invitation letters issued by provincial or municipal government officials can also enter the country. Some immediate family members of foreign employees may obtain visas to enter for emergency humanitarian purposes. Diplomatic personnel and C visa holders - generally flight and shipping crew members - are exempt from entry bans.
Additionally, officials are permitting essential business travel from Singapore and South Korea under fast-track arrangements. Travel is possible between Singapore and Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces, as well as Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin municipalities. A fast-track arrangement for business travelers from South Korea to 10 Chinese locations, including Shanghai and Liaoning, Shandong, Jiangsu, and Anhui provinces, is also in place. Companies or government agencies can apply for special passes for inbound visitors, who must test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of their departure from Singapore or within 72 hours of their departure from South Korea and obtain a visa. Passengers will undergo COVID-19 testing again upon arrival in China and self-isolate at designated facilities (usually hotels) until their results are available. Singapore travelers must also adhere to a preplanned itinerary, refrain from using public transport - except for private hire vehicles - for the first 14 days and download and use a health pass while in the country. Arriving passengers testing positive for COVID-19 will undergo treatment at their own expense.
Authorities require most arriving passengers from abroad to take a nucleic acid COVID-19 test at designated facilities in the country of origin within three days of departure for China. Officials require all authorized inbound passengers from specified countries to provide evidence of both nucleic acid COVID-19 and IgM antibody tests from designated facilities in the departure country within 48 hours of boarding flights and undergo additional COVID-19 tests in each country they transit. As of Dec. 4, the measure applies to travelers from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Denmark, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, the UK, the US, and Vietnam. Authorities will likely further expand the testing requirements to other countries in the coming days and weeks, possibly at short notice. Most travelers, regardless of nationality or residency, are barred from using land border crossings. Exceptions are in place for cargo transport, though backlogs remain possible at border checkpoints.
All authorized passengers must apply for a health certificate via the local Chinese diplomatic mission before travel. Chinese citizens must update their information through WeChat to obtain a health code before boarding flights. The government continues to conduct health screenings, including body temperature scans and nucleic acid testing, at ports of entry nationwide. Most international travelers must quarantine for 14 days, and officials generally allow nonresident passengers to stay in government-designated hotels at their own cost. However, some governments require inbound travelers to self-quarantine and undergo medical observation for three or four weeks. All arrivals must receive a negative COVID-19 test result in quarantine before release from designated facilities.
Consider postponing nonessential travel to mainland China. Confirm all scheduled international flights. Consult airlines and Chinese diplomatic facilities for details on restrictions prior to any travel. Follow all official instructions and closely monitor official announcements on any other precautionary restrictions. Confirm all travel and business reservations. Allow additional travel time due to screenings at airports, train stations, and other transport hubs. Make allowances for possible business disruptions.
Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.
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