China is a great travel destination.
With good food and amazing sights, China is the ideal place for a short getaway. Some of us even have relatives there.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic came with an onslaught of restrictions, making it difficult to travel to China.
After all, vacations are not cheap. Imagine paying all that money to travel but needing to undergo a strict quarantine for nearly a week.
Paying a short visit to see relatives has also become a near-impossible feat. The current mandatory five-day quarantine is already longer than our Chinese New Year holiday.
For those who miss visiting China, here’s a piece of good news for you.
China To Remove Quarantine for Travellers
Apparently, China is going to remove the need to quarantine overseas travellers from January 2023, according to sources who refused to be named.
Travellers are currently required to quarantine at a hotel or other quarantine facilities for at least five days after their arrival. After this, travellers are then required to participate in another three days of home observation.
The current regulations were last updated in November, where the mandatory quarantine for overseas travellers was reduced from seven days in a centralised quarantine facility to five days.
As of 23 December, officials are considering a “0+3” policy, where overseas travellers no longer need to quarantine themselves in a hotel or facility, though they still need to undergo three days of monitoring.
China’s Zero-COVID Policy
While countries such as Singapore and, well, basically almost the world, have chosen to approach the pandemic with a “Living with COVID-19” stance, China chose to embark on a Zero-COVID policy instead.
Zero-COVID focuses on prevention and containment, rather than co-existing with COVID-19.
Restrictions that China has undertaken include sending not only infected people to government-supervised quarantine facilities but also close contacts of infected people.
In addition, while many countries have already opened up their borders and resumed air travel, China’s borders have continued to remain shut since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Though China has admitted that the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which dominated COVID-19 transmissions in 2022, has milder symptoms and is less likely to cause serious health issues, China has continued to stand firm on their Zero-COVID policy.
So… Why Ease Restrictions Now?
China’s strict regulations have caused massive economic damage and frustration amongst its people, especially in light of other countries worldwide easing their own restrictions.
The frustration has been so bad that recently, COVID-19 protests in China have escalated. Resentment has built up to the point of violence, as seen from the protests in Guangzhou back in November.
Since the protests, the government has begun to significantly ease restrictions, including announcing quarantine-free travel between China and Hong Kong starting from January 2023.
China has also begun to allow infected people to isolate themselves at home and travel restrictions between provinces have been lifted.
The new guidelines have also banned blocking fire exits and doors. This regulation follows the massive outcry after citizens were trapped during an earthquake in Chengdu. An increase in COVID-19 cases had caused a city-wide lockdown, where emergency exits of buildings were barricaded.
The reported removal of quarantine for overseas travellers appears to be another restriction that China is easing.
However, these abrupt changes to China’s COVID-19 policy have confused experts. There is also a concern that the death toll of those infected with COVID-19 will increase with this sudden easing of regulations.
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