China yesterday announced it will reopen its borders and abandon its strict Covid-19 quarantine for travellers and mainland citizens on January 8. The announcement signals great news for Thailand as the kingdom continues to prosper from the worldwide relaxation of Covid restrictions.
Chinese visitors topped the nation’s No.1 tourist charts before the pandemic outbreak in 2020. From 2014 there had been a steady increase from 4.64 million visitors to 12 million tourists in 2019. But that all came to an end with China’s zero-Covid policy. Since then Malaysia, India, and Laos have filled those top three most tourist slots.
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) declared inbound visitors now only need to show a negative Covid test result 48 hours before departure. Inbound travellers currently need to spend five days in hotel quarantine and three days of self-isolation at home.
The NHC added that restrictions on international flights and passenger capacity will also be removed.
The abandonment of China’s strict Covid quarantine measures and the easing of its borders comes as the mainland relaxed its controversial zero-Covid policy earlier this month following protests throughout the mainland.
Since then, Beijing reported about 4,000 daily Covid infections, which suggests the Chinese vaccines Sinovac/Sinopharm are not as strong as other Western vaccines such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna.
Foreigners have been largely banned from entering China, apart from a limited number of business or family visits, but the NHC said it will make arrangements for foreigners to visit China for work, business, study or family reasons and “provide convenience” for their visa applications.
China offered no timeline or details on implementation but made it known that outbound tourism for Chinese citizens will be resumed in an orderly manner, depending on the international coronavirus situation and the capacity of various domestic services.
China classified Covid as a Category B infectious disease in 2020 but treated it as a Category A disease, putting it alongside the bubonic plague or cholera. Covid will now be treated as a Category B disease, in the same category as HIV and bird flu.
The official Chinese name of Covid will also be changed from “novel coronavirus pneumonia” to “novel coronavirus infection,” an amendment it said is “more in line with the current characteristics and danger level of this disease.”
The NHC said…
“The less-deadly Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of SARS-Cov-2, and only a very small number of cases developed to pneumonia.”
The NHC added it won’t completely rule out the possibility of temporary and local restriction measures going forward.
“As we manage the outbreaks, we should pay special attention to a real-time global assessment of the outbreak’s intensity, pressure on the health system and general situation of the society, and take appropriate lawful measures to limit people’s group activities and movement in a flexible way to flatten the curve.”