UPDATES: Following the downgrade of COVID-19 to a Class B infectious disease and the removal of centralized quarantine for inbound travelers, China announced that it will optimize immigration administration policies and measures starting from January 8, 2023. In particular, China will resume the issuance of passports for Chinese mainland residents, ordinary visas and residence permits for foreigners, as well as tourist visa exemption for short-term travelers. For more information, please read our China Briefing article: China to Resume Passport, Visa Issuance Starting January 8, 2023.
China has finally decided to remove some of its most stringent travel restriction measures, a move that has been long-awaited by business groups. Starting from January 8, 2023, among other changes, China will no longer conduct nucleic acid tests and centralized quarantine for all inbound travelers, and measures to control the number of international passenger flights will be lifted.
On December 26, 2022, China’s National Health Commission (NHC), a cabinet-level executive department of the State Council that is responsible for formulating national health policies, announced that the official name for COVID-19, the “novel coronavirus pneumonia”, will be changed to the “novel coronavirus infection” (COVID-19 infections), and preventive and control measures for a Class B infectious disease will be applied to COVID-19 infections. Previously, novel coronavirus pneumonia was classified as a Class B infectious disease, but was subject to the prevention and control measures of a Class A infectious disease, due to its high transmissibility and risks to health and life.
Moreover, COVID-19 infections will no longer be included in the administration of quarantinable infectious diseases as stipulated in the Border Health and Quarantine Law of the People’s Republic of China.
Another circular released by the NHC on the same day, the Overall Plan for Implementing Class B Infectious Disease Management for COVID-19 Infections (the Overall Plan), further clarifies that starting January 8, 2023, China will:
To be more specific, the Overall Plan mentions that China will “improve management of personnel exchanges between China and foreign countries” and implement the following measures:
The measures introduced above mean that some of China’s most stringent travel restrictions will finally be removed—the onerous nucleic acid test requirements and the lengthy centralized quarantine policy have long been a burden and deterrent for inbound travelers.
However, given that no specific visa policy is introduced for inbound travelers and no clear timeline is provided for the resumption of outbound tourism in the Overall Plan, the comparatively free flow of people between China and the rest of the world is yet to be seen.
That said, with China endeavoring to pivot to “living with COVID” and China’s top leaders starting to put more emphasis on economic growth once again, as revealed by the readout of the Central Economic Work Conference, it won’t be long for China to completely reopens its borders.
Almost three years after the first COVID-19 case was reported, China has taken decisive steps toward “living with the virus”. On December 7, 2022, the National Health Commission released a set of 10 measures that effectively abolished China’s zero-COVID strategy, removing requirements such as mandatory centralized quarantine, compulsory testing, and sweeping lockdowns.
This sudden pivot in COVID-19 policy has been welcomed by many businesses that have struggled under almost three years of strict lockdowns and travel restrictions, which have slowed economic growth.
Read more in our China Briefing Article: From Zero-COVID to Living with COVID – What the Pivot Means for Businesses in China and China Coronavirus Updates: Latest Developments and Business Advisory.
China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dezan Shira & Associates has offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Germany, Italy, India, and Russia, in addition to our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative. We also have partner firms assisting foreign investors in The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh.
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