Has reopened its borders to international visitors for the first time since it imposed travel restrictions in march 2020, marking a significant change in the country’s covid policy. incoming travellers will no longer need to quarantine, but will still require proof of a negative pcr test taken within 48 hours of travelling, an announcement welcomed by many eager to reunite with family. in hong kong, 400,000 people are expected to travel into mainland china in the coming weeks with long queues for flights into cities including beijing and xiamen.
Move coincided with the start of “chun yun”, the first period of lunar new year travel, which was expected to draw two billion people, double the amount from last year before the pandemic. china had one of the world’s strictest covid health policies in the past three years, which saw numerous lockdowns, frequent testing requirements and had a significant impacts on the nation’s economy.
Chinese government abandoned the key elements of its covid zero policy after mass protests across the country, triggered by a fire in a high-rise block in the xinjiang region that killed 10 people. since then, there have been reports of hospitals and crematoriums being overwhelmed, but the country has stopped publishing its case numbers and reported only two deaths yesterday. just yesterday, the chinese government banned over 1,000 social media accounts critical of its handling of the virus. the anticipated surge in cases and visitors has prompted many countries to impose requirements for a negative covid-19 test on travellers from china, drawing the ire of the chinese government. many chinese believed the long-running covid restrictions contributed to the deaths, but authorities denied this.