China has dropped almost all of the Covid testing and quarantine rules that have made travel to the People’s Republic so difficult over the past three years.
The general requirement to spend days in a state quarantine center followed by self-isolation in a hotel or home has been lifted.
At the same time, Chinese citizens are now allowed to travel abroad in their spare time.
But with the exception of the special autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macao, tourists are not yet allowed.
These are the most important questions and answers.
Which foreigners are allowed into mainland China?
- Family members of Chinese nationals (or someone with a Chinese permanent residence permit) whom they plan to visit.
- People with a work permit – typically for teachers of English.
- Business travelers who have an official invitation issued by a provincial foreign office or trade department.
- Applicants who qualify for transport crew visas, usually flight crew.
What obstacles must they cross to enter mainland China?
Anyone going to China must submit a negative PCR test result, taken within 48 hours before arrival, and complete a health declaration form via the China Customs website.
There is no obligation to provide proof of vaccination.
“Passengers entering China showing symptoms of fever, or with an abnormal health report, may be asked to undergo an antigen test on arrival,” the British Foreign Office says.
“Those who test positive will be self-quarantined if symptoms are mild, or advised to go to a medical institution for diagnosis and treatment if symptoms are more severe.”
How strict are the Covid controls in China?
Much easier than they were. While masks are still officially required in many settings, including public transport, anecdotal reports suggest that the obligation is widely ignored.
The State Department says: “Covid-19 test results are still required for access to nursing homes, medical facilities, childcare and schools.”
Will I find it easy to get a flight?
Not necessarily. Only a fraction of the normal flights between the UK and China are operating. Dan Beauchamp of American Express Global Business Travel told Skift’s travel news site: “We expect international capacity recovery to be slow, at only about 12 percent of 2019 available seat miles for the first half of this year.
“International flight options are therefore likely to be limited and prices high, and the situation is unlikely to improve much in the short to medium term.”
Can I change flights at a Chinese airport without formalities?
Not at the moment. All travelers entering China must meet all entry requirements. – There are no exceptions to this, and transit on the aircraft side is currently not permitted, says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese airlines provided the cheapest options from the UK to Southeast Asia and Australia. Only when transit is allowed again will these coups begin to return.
How normal is life in China?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warns: “The possibility of local authorities imposing mandatory closures in response to new outbreaks remains. Such shutdowns can lead to disruptions in medical and other basic services, including food delivery.
“You should ensure you have prepared extra food, water and medical supplies in case you are mandated to isolate locally.”
Anyone in need of medical treatment is warned: “China is currently experiencing a large number of Covid-19 cases; medical facilities in some parts of the country, including Beijing, are operating at or near full capacity.
“Access to treatment, including intensive care, may be delayed or limited.”
What are the rules for onward travel?
Many countries have travel restrictions on arrivals from the People’s Republic – some only from mainland China, others also from Hong Kong and Macao.
Travelers returning to England must take a PCR or lateral flow/rapid antigen test during the two days before departure.
Arrivals from China touching London Heathrow can also voluntarily take a PCR test on arrival, at the UK Government’s expense.