China changes Covid-19 quarantine rules in first step towards easing border controls (update)

China on Tuesday announced changes to its Covid-19 controls that will make it easier to enter the country, the first step towards easing its border restrictions.

The measures include cutting quarantine time for overseas arrivals to seven days at a government-run facility, followed by another three days in home isolation.

They mark the biggest changes to the rules since China closed its borders in March 2020, but the controls remain tough compared to many countries that have completely reopened and dropped testing requirements.

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Some of the rules announced on Tuesday have already been in place since earlier this month in the capital Beijing, Wuhan in the central province of Hubei, and in the east – Wuxi and Xuzhou in Jiangsu province and across Zhejiang.

In addition, eight major cities in April cut their quarantine requirements from 14 to 10 days in a designated facility, a move that was followed in many other places.

China calls for overseas arrivals to be monitored for signs of monkeypox

While Beijing continues to insist on a tough “dynamic zero-Covid” policy, it has been sending signals that border controls could gradually be eased, as other countries are removing barriers for international travel 2½ years into the pandemic.

As of June 20, foreign nationals have been allowed to visit immediate Chinese family members or foreigners with permanent residency in mainland China, and they no longer have to produce an invitation letter from a provincial-level authority when seeking an employment visa.

Aviation authorities also said earlier this month that the number of international passenger flights would increase and that they were in talks with several countries to add more. Several airlines in China have said they plan to offer new international routes or resume them from this month.

Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Co’s Shanghai Disney Resort said it would reopen the Disneyland theme park on Thursday. The theme park had closed more than three months ago amid a Covid-19 outbreak in the city and a prolonged lockdown.

More to follow ...

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