Disclaimer: Travel rules and official government instructions are changing rapidly during the pandemic times and this article might NOT be up to date within a matter of hours. Therefore, you should always double-check the information with local authorities or your embassy in a given destination. Traveling Lifestyle does not take any responsibility for your decision to travel during pandemic.
The Chinese government has recently changed entry requirements for tourists and only 8 countries are allowed to enter the country at the moment.
This may seem rather ironic, given that China was the source of the pandemic, but understandable given that China has gotten its pandemic cases under control.
But, who is affected by this new rather strict policy? Read ahead for some helpful tips to navigate the new entry system.
The Chinese government has announced that stranded foreigners who are stuck outside China, may still apply for visas at Chinese Embassy or Consulates in case of emergency. (See above who affected by the travel ban)
China imposing new strict rules for entering the country.
On September 3rd Update
China started resuming direct flights with 8 countries (Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Thailand) (source).
Due to the worsening global pandemic situation, China has limited the countries that can enter and also rules for obtaining the VISAs as well.
COVID-19 Situation in China
According to the The World Health Organization, the country has managed to control the pandemic. As of today, the country has reported 93,225 positive cases and 4,749 deaths. These figures come from the China Authorities and it is difficult to contrast them with other sources.
Is China open for tourism?
Yes, China is open for tourism but since the 18th of October, only to nationals from 8 countries. All visitors need to apply for a tourist VISA, get a PCR test before departure and undergo a 14-days quarantine after arrival.
Who can travel to China at the moment?
As of today, only nationals of these 8 countries can enter to China.
The Tourist Visa
It is not enough to have a passport that is current and has at least six months left prior to expiring. You must also apply for a tourist visa with the Chinese Embassy in your native country.
Since the tourist visa can take months to acquire, do not plan any travel to China until your visa (or visas, if you are traveling with others in your family) have been approved and sent to you.
It may complicate your travel plans given that you would probably prefer to book your trip and then wait for the visas, but it’s worse if there is a snag or delay with approving your visas and then your trip plans are in danger of being ruined. DO NOT TRAVEL TO CHINA WITHOUT A VISA. Anyone who tries to enter China right now with just a passport and no tourist visa may be arrested, deported, refused access, etc., and the laws there are very strict.
Foreign nationals who hold valid residence permit of work
Foreign nationals who hold valid permit for family reunion
Foreign nationals who hold valid permit personal matters
Important: foreign nationals visiting China for emergency needs may still apply for special entry visas.
Restrictions Once You Have Arrived
Anyone who is allowed to enter must quarantine in place where they stay for two weeks, screened as they enter the country for the virus, and then screened and tested again after the fourteen days before they are allowed to walk around and tour things in China.
If you weren’t planning on spending almost a month there for your intended travel plans, you may want to wait until the quarantine requirement is no longer required.
All tests and screenings are considered medical and people who visit China will be responsible for the costs on their own because most foreign health insurance plans are not accepted in China.
All visitors must have:
Proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken no more than 72hours before departure
Undergo 14-days quarantine after arrival
Valid VISA or residence permit
Not Allowed to “Just Pass Through” Either
In China, this is forbidden. Passengers on planes from other countries that are not allowed entry into China because of the travel ban against certain countries may not treat China as a “just passing through” country, even when travelers are in an airport. Keep this in mind if you need to take a connecting flight to get to another Asian or Pacific country.
Another important fact about flying in and out of China is that it intends to stick with singular flights in and out of the country.
What this means is that a plane may bring you into the country, but your next flight out is the only flight out until the following week, two weeks, or more. Expect this reduced number of planes in Chinese air space for any travel you book in the next six months, at the very least.
The idea, of course, is to restrict as much influx of foreigners into China and track any cases of COVID that may result from each plane coming in and the passengers on that plane. This method of disease tracking is relatively smart, but it does complicate travel plans, even for dignitaries and the like. Plan to stay for some time, and then book well in advance for your flight out since the single plane flights is all that you will find for a while.
Is it safe to visit China now?
According to the CDC, China is a safe place to visit and the risk is very low. The warning level is only at 1 and travelers are advised to follow all pandemic rules. (CDC.gov)
Masks, No Exceptions
With China being the first super-center of the outbreak, and Wuhan being the very center of it all, China is enforcing the wearing of masks with very strict punishments.
Not even Chinese citizens are allowed to take off their masks for “mask breaks” anywhere in enclosed places and spaces where large numbers of people are going to work and conducting business. You may be able to remove the mask in your lodgings, but you are required to put it back on if hotel staff wish to enter your room.
The penalties are pretty stiff, and as a foreign-born visitor, you do not want to be imprisoned or banned from ever visiting the country again for what seems a really small infraction. It is also wise to find out what other laws the Chinese have and avoid breaking any of them.