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New COVID-19 Cases Lead to Travel Restrictions from China

China is finally opening its borders after almost three years, but the U.S. and several other countries have reintroduced their own entry requirements for Chinese visitors

by Fergus Cole

December 31, 2022

Photo: Courtesy of Zibik / Unsplash

Just as China announced it would be reopening its borders next month, the U.S. has reimposed COVID restrictions on travelers coming from the Asian country.

The Chinese immigration administration announced that passport applications for citizens wishing to travel overseas would resume on January 8, 2023. The move comes after almost three years of virtually closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with China imposing some of the strictest quarantine measures in the world.

The announcement on Monday, December 26, was followed by a surge of Chinese citizens visiting travel websites trying to book trips overseas. Foreign visitors will also be finally allowed in, although they will still be required to show proof of a negative test result, and masks are still mandatory on flights.

However, Chinese citizens wishing to travel to the U.S. and other countries will have to meet specific requirements as restrictions have been reimposed following a recent explosion of COVID cases in China.

“There are mounting concerns in the international community on the ongoing Covid-19 surges in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data,” U.S. officials said in a statement.
“Without this data, it is becoming increasingly difficult for public health officials to ensure that they will be able to identify any potential new variants and take prompt measures to reduce the spread.”

The new rules state that all passengers visiting the U.S. from China must provide a negative test result before boarding their flight, with the test to be taken at most two days before departure.

Other countries have also reintroduced entry restrictions for passengers traveling from China. Japan—one of the biggest markets for Chinese travelers—was quick to announce the requirement of a negative test or seven-day quarantine for passengers coming from China, as well as the autonomous regions of Macau and Hong Kong.

India, South Korea, and Taiwan also demand proof of a negative test, while Malaysia has reintroduced tracking and surveillance measures.

Italy has also become the first European country to reimpose restrictions on Chinese visitors after tests at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (FCO), and Milan’s Malpensa Airport (MXP) revealed that half of those coming from China tested positive on arrival.

Orazio Schillaci, the Italian health minister, said: “The measure is essential to guarantee the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population.”

As the year comes to an end, new COVID cases will continue to tighten regulations for travelers flying to and from China, increasing the likelihood of further restrictions for traveling to other countries in the coming months.