China Reopens Borders As Lunar New Year Travel Kicks Off Amid Covid Surge – China has eased its quarantine regulations for inbound travelers, ending nearly three years of self-imposed isolation despite a rise in Covid cases. On Sunday, mainland China also opened its border to Hong Kong, eliminating the last pillars of a zero-Covid policy that had protected residents from the virus but kept them off from the rest of the world.
The containment strategy had a significant influence on the second-largest economy in the world and sparked dissatisfaction throughout Chinese society, which led to widespread demonstrations immediately before it was lifted. Inbound travelers to China are no longer compelled to undergo quarantine as of Sunday, nearly three years after being subjected to varied durations of mandatory isolation. At Shanghai’s Pudong international airport, a woman with the surname Pang told news outlet that she was delighted with the new rule.
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As a result of the government’s announcement last month that quarantine would be lifted, the number of enquiries on prominent travel websites soared. As the world’s most populous country is facing its worst-ever outbreak, more than a dozen countries have imposed mandatory Covid tests on visitors from the United States. The outbreak is predicted to intensify as China enters the lunar new year holiday this month, during which millions are anticipated to travel from hard-hit megacities to the countryside to visit elderly relatives who are more susceptible to infection.
China on Saturday marked the first day of “chun yun,” the 40-day period of lunar new year travel known pre-pandemic as the world’s largest annual migration of people. This lunar new year public holiday, which begins on the 21st of January, will be the first since 2020 without limitations on domestic travel. The Chinese Ministry of Transport predicted on Friday that more than 2 billion passengers would travel in the following 40 days. In China’s southern semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, tough cross-border travel restrictions with the Chinese mainland were loosened on Sunday.
Families separated by the border anticipate reunions for the lunar new year. After registering online, up to 50,000 Hong Kong residents would be able to cross the border daily at three land checkpoints. Up to 50,000 Hong Kong residents will be able to cross the border daily at three land checkpoints after registering online. Another 10,000 will be allowed to enter by sea, air or bridges without needing to register in advance, the city’s leader, John Lee, said. More than 280,000 in total had registered to make the journey within a day of the new rules being announced.
However, Hong Kong travelers must still provide a negative nucleic acid test result acquired within 48 hours of departure. Immigration authorities will start issuing permits for mainlanders to travel to Hong Kong and Macau “according to the epidemic situation and service capacities,” the city has said. Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific has said it will more than double its flights to the Chinese mainland. Across Asia, tourist hubs are preparing for a surge in Chinese visitors.
At a crepe stand in Seoul, Son Kyung-rak said he was making plans to deal with a flood of tourists. “We’re looking to hire and preparing to stock up,” the 24-year-old said in Seoul’s popular downtown Myeongdong district. “Chinese tourists are our main customers, so the more the merrier.” In Tokyo, caricaturist Masashi Higashitani was dusting off his Chinese language skills as he prepared for more holidaymakers.
But while he said he was thrilled about China’s reopening, he admitted some apprehension. “I wonder if an influx of too many of them might overwhelm our capacity. I’m also worried that we need to be more careful about anti-virus measures.”