China Relaxes International Travel Restrictions: All You Need to Know



China, one of the few countries that have so far adhered to the Zero-COVID policy despite the world’s major economies gradually moving past the pandemic-related rules and regulations, now decided to relax certain restrictions on international travel. The country has relaxed quarantine requirements for inbound travelers besides ending the ‘circuit breaker’ system under which flights were banned abruptly. 

This means that more international flights from abroad will be allowed to enter China and international travelers will now be going through just five days of centralized quarantine (unlike the earlier seven-day isolation in a central quarantine facility) followed by three days of self-monitoring of health at home. Further, a slight adjustment is also made to the pre-departure testing requirement. Instead of two negative PCR test certificates to be submitted in the 48 hours leading to the flight to China, travelers can present only one test certificate. 

This announcement was made after the first conference among the newly elected seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (the policy-making body) headed by Chinese Communist Party’s leader Xi Jinping. 

Zero-COVID Policy Eased and ‘Circuit Breaker’ System Ended    

Zero-COVID, initiated to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, follows the FTTIS (Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support) strategy. Lockdown, quarantine, mass testing, contact tracing, and other virus suppression measures are all a part of this stringent policy, which was implemented by almost every country during the pandemic. While several nations adapted to the ‘living with COVID-19’ strategy over time, only a few countries like China abided by the ZERO-COVID practices. 

‘Circuit Breaker’ is yet another of China’s implementations in which the country suspended international flights on a specific route temporarily if a certain percentage of passengers on board were detected COVID-19 positive upon arrival. Moreover, such flights were made to return to their origin cities without any passengers. Since such incidents can incur a massive loss to flight operators, many international airlines either discontinued or slashed their flight operations to China. However, with the ‘circuit breaker’ system being scrapped now, international airlines are most likely to resume their regular services to China very soon.

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