Traveling to China during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

Editor’s note – The number of coronavirus cases remains high worldwide. Health officials warn that travel increases the chances of contracting and spreading the virus. Staying at home is the best way to stop transmission. Below is information on what to know if you’re planning to travel, last updated on September 21st.

(CNN) – If you’re planning a trip to China, here’s what to know and expect if you plan to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

the basics

The Covid-19 pandemic began in China’s Hubei province, but early and strict lockdowns initially helped keep the virus under control. However, the Omicron variant has proven to be a challenge, and the government is still pursuing a “zero Covid” strategy.

Today, most visitors are still not allowed to enter the country.

On June 28, China announced that it would relax, but not remove, requirements for inbound travelers. The existing 14-day quarantine will be replaced by a “seven plus three” program consisting of one week of hotel quarantine and three days of home observation.

What is offered

This is, of course, one of the greatest ancient civilizations in the world. China brought us stationery, printing and of course tea. Many of its dynasties have left their mark on world-renowned heritage sites such as the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an, and ancient villages such as Lijiang. But it’s also thoroughly modern, with mushroom cities and skyscrapers lighting up the clouds.

Who can go

China closed its borders to almost all travelers in March 2020, as the pandemic began to spread across Europe.

According to a draft policy document released by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on September 19, tour groups organized by travel agencies in China’s border areas will be able to “flexibly” choose their entry and exit.

These travelers will be allowed to visit specific sites as part of group tours, not solo itineraries.

In addition, the exact details have not yet been determined.

Some of the 14 countries that share a border with China include Russia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Nepal and Laos.

What are the restrictions?

As of May 20, travelers from the United States and Canada are not required to take a PCR test seven days before flying to China.

However, some restrictions are still in place. These travelers must undergo two PCR tests 24-48 hours before departure to China (depending on the airport of departure) and a pre-flight antigen test.

For newly qualified students, entry will depend on having received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days before entry. They must apply for a visa in advance, and upon arrival show proof of vaccination, as well as negative tests.

Arrivals are screened again at the airport. Those who do not pass the checks will be sent to government facilities. Some provinces require additional quarantine upon arrival.

Intending travelers should be careful as flights can be canceled at the last minute.

What is the Covid situation?

China has reported 2.7 million cases and 15,133 deaths as of September 21, 2022. About 90% of the adult population is fully incorporated.

Many attractions require guests to register a day in advance and undergo a Covid test before being allowed to enter.

Visitors are urged to keep up to date with local restrictions and rule changes. On June 3, many neighborhoods in Shanghai reopened after a nearly two-month lockdown, only to close some of them again a day later when a few positive cases were detected.

What can visitors expect?

Things can change quickly in China. Regional lockdowns have been implemented whenever there are new outbreaks of the virus.

Anyone visiting China is urged to be flexible, as lockdowns can occur in apartment buildings, offices, or even entire neighborhoods without warning.

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CNN’s Julia Buckley and Lilit Marcus contributed to this report