China has steadfastly maintained some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the world since the start of the pandemic, implementing regular testing, lockdowns, quarantine, and contact tracing for what has nearly been three years now. On Friday, November 11, the country announced that it is finally loosening some of these restrictions. Would-be visitors to China are hoping that this will be a crucial first step in finally reopening the country to international tourism again.
Though many restrictions remain in place in order to travel to China, Reuters reports that starting on Friday, November 11, visitors to China will now only be required to take part in a five-day centralized quarantine if they come in close contact with someone who has tested positive, rather than the previous seven days, followed by an additional three days of confinement at a government-designated facility. In addition, the need to identify secondary COVID-19 contacts has been removed, air passengers will only be subject to only one PCR test prior to boarding rather than two within 48 hours, and airlines will no longer be penalized via suspended flights for bringing too many COVID-positive passengers into the country.
Is China Open for Tourists?
Though many are hopeful that the relaxation in rules will lead to this eventually, China is still not issuing visas for tourists as of this writing. You are only allowed to travel to China if you have a valid residence permit, or a select visa that allows you to enter under specific conditions.
According to the Chinese National Health Commission, "Optimising and adjusting prevention and control measures is not relaxing prevention and control, let alone opening up and 'laying flat', but to adapt to the new situation of epidemic prevention and control and the new characteristics of COVID-19 mutation…"
For those wishing to visit China, it is a positive sign, but it appears that the waiting will continue.
Current China COVID-19 Restrictions for Visitors
If you are currently permitted to travel to China, you will still be subject to a five-day complete quarantine at a government-approved site or a hotel, all at your own expense. You may not be permitted to decide where you will be spending your time in quarantine. Upon completion of this quarantine, you will be required to isolate for a further three days at a government-approved site.
Travel Insurance for China
Due to the mandatory quarantine period still imposed, all visitors are encouraged to research and purchase COVID-19 travel insurance with quarantine coverage. By having travel insurance with quarantine coverage, you can be reimbursed for eligible additional quarantine costs in accordance with the plan you have purchased.