At a time when strict pandemic-related travel restrictions appeared to be on the way out, some governments are now imposing new measures on travelers from China as COVID-19 infections in the country continue to rise. The measures have been put in place in a bid to minimize the risk of virus mutations or a spike in new infections following China’s relaxation of its stringent zero-COVID policies last month.
AeroTime takes a look at the countries reintroducing pre-flight tests for passengers from China, requiring tests on arrival or, in the case of one country, even banning entry to all travelers flying from the country.
Starting from January 5, 2023, Chinese travelers aiming to fly to Australia will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours prior to the flight. Passengers will also need to provide a negative test result on arrival.
“While we are no longer in the emergency phase of the pandemic response in Australia, this decision has been made to safeguard Australia from the risk of potential new emerging variants, and in recognition of the rapidly evolving situation in China and uncertainty about emerging viral variants,” the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care explained in a statement published on its website.
According to health minister Marr Butler, the temporary measure has been made with “an abundance of caution” and considers “the dynamic and evolving situation in China” as well as the potential for new COVID-19 virus variants “to emerge in an environment of high transmission”.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government has imposed similar restrictions for all Chinese air travelers over the age of two. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, travelers will be asked to provide a negative test result before departing from China.
Like Australia, the new rule will come into effect in Canada on January 5, 2023, and will apply to all travelers arriving from China “regardless of nationality and vaccination status”.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to evolve, the Government of Canada has taken a prudent and measured approach to adjust border measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” the government noted in its statement.
The measure will be effective for 30 days from the launch date.
Following a new decree, which was approved by the government on December 30, 2022, France will introduce mandatory health checks for visitors arriving from China from January 5, 2023.
Travelers aged 12 and older will be required to present negative COVID test results within the last 48 hours before taking a flight to France. Visitors will be also asked to sign a specific certificate confirming that they have not been in contact with an infected person two weeks before their flight to France and do not have any symptoms of the virus. By signing the certificate travelers will also express consent their consent to take a test which will be performed on arrival.
However, if a passenger tests positive, the person will be required to quarantine for seven days and undertake a PCR test once the period ends.
While other countries appear to be focused on travelers coming from China, the Indian government has recently decided to test all passengers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.
Travelers from the named countries will be required to share their negative test results on a special government website before they enter the country. The test should be performed within 72 hours of travel to India.
The new rule came into force on January 2, 2023.
Italy, which was Europe’s first country to face the virus in February 2020, has already launched mandatory testing for passengers flying from China.
Since December 26, 2022, passengers arriving at Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) from Beijing and Shanghai have been subject to testing “to ensure surveillance and detection of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population,” the country’s Health Minister Orazio Schillaci was cited as saying by EuroNews.
On January 5, 2022, Israel will join a host of other countries in asking travelers flying from China to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The test must be carried out 48 hours prior to entry into the country.
Airlines operating in Israel will deny boarding to non-Israeli travelers departing from China without a negative PCR test.
Japan opened its borders to international travels in October 2022 after more than two years of strict restrictions. But the country has tightened its travel rules once again for Chinese passengers.
From December 30, 2022, the country will require travelers arriving from China to provide a negative test result on arrival.
Meanwhile, on December 30, 2022, the government of Malaysia implemented a mandatory temperature screening for all travelers entering the country.
Travelers who have visited China within 14 days before their flight to Malaysia will be asked to undergo a rapid antigen test.
The Malaysian government will also take samples of wastewater from aircraft arriving from China to check for the virus.
On January 3, 2022, Morocco became Africa’s first country to re-impose harsh travel restrictions for Chinese travelers.
Unlike other countries, the Moroccan government decided to completely close its borders to all travelers arriving from China regardless of their nationality in a bid to prevent new waves of infections in the country.
Qatar reinstated mandatory COVID-19 test requirements for all visitors from China on January 3, 2023.
Following the rules, passengers will be asked to present a negative test taken 48 hours prior to departure to Qatar.
Effective from January 3, 2023, travelers arriving in Spain from China will be asked to provide a negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival or an up-to-date vaccination certificate completed with any of the vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
South Korea will impose mandatory checks for Chinese travelers, including a requirement of a negative PCR test within 48 hours of departure, or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours, followed by a PCR test after arrival.
The new procedures are set to be launched on January 5, 2023, and will remain in place until at least the end of February.
Taiwan imposed a testing mandate on Chinese passengers from January 1, 2023. Under the new rules, travelers arriving in Taiwan directly from China are required to provide a saliva sample for a PCR test upon arrival.
Chinses visitors will also be asked to fill in health declaration forms after disembarking and before going through immigration and other arrival procedures.
Travelers arriving from China to the United Kingdom will also face some restrictions.
“China is currently experiencing its largest COVID-19 outbreak, and there may be an increased risk of infection. You should ensure you have a supply of medication for COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms. COVID-19 restrictions have been significantly relaxed, but some restrictions remain in place across mainland China,” the statement found on the UK government website reads.
Starting on January 5, 2022, the country will ask every visitor arriving in the UK from China on direct flights to undertake a pre-departure test, which result will be checked by an air carrier before the departure.
However, passengers who test positive for the virus will not be required to self-isolate. According to UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper, testing results will be collected “for surveillance purposes”.
The US Bureau of Consular Affairs recently shared an update on virus-related restrictions for Chinese visitors.
According to a government document, effective on January 5, 2022, the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require a negative COVID-19 test result, taken within two days of departure, for all travelers aged two years and older who are aiming to visit the US on flights from China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Visitors will also be allowed to proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days instead of undertaking the test, the CDC explained.
“This public health policy is due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the PRC and the risk of the emergence of a new viral variant given the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from the PRC,” the statement reads.