From January 5, arrivals into the US from China and Hong Kong will need to present a negative departure test. Meanwhile, the UK and EU are reviewing their response to China's Covid crisis.
Could we be back to where we were in 2020? (Image courtesy Shutterstock)
The United States announced yesterday it will be introducing entrance requirements for travellers from China, following similar moves by Japan, India, Italy and Taiwan this week.
There is mounting concern internationally over China’s decision to open its borders despite surging Covid cases. China stopped publishing official Covid data earlier this month but international health agencies are estimating thousands of daily deaths and infections in the millions.
Regardless, from January 8, China will scrap quarantine for overseas arrivals and will resume issuing visas to foreigners and passports to its own population. The border with Hong Kong will also reopen on the same day.
The US announced on Wednesday that all travellers from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, must test negative within 48 hours of departure. The restriction applies to all arrivals from the age of two years and over regardless of vaccination status.
India, Japan, Taiwan and Italy will also require negative tests before entry. Japan has banned direct flights from China, including Hong Kong, from landing at all but four of its airports. However, following intervention by the Hong Kong government yesterday, it has since amended the regulations to allow flights from Hong Kong to land at Sapporo’s New Chitose airport and Fukuoka and Okinawa airports as long as nobody on board has entered China within the previous seven days. Cathay has announced it will be running a reduced schedule from Hong Kong to Japan until further notice, with flights to Sapporo reduced from seven to five a week. Hong Kong Express Airways will be cancelling 41 flights from Hong Kong to Japan in January.
The United Kingdom said on Thursday morning that it is reviewing China's Covid situation. According to UK defence secretary Ben Wallace, the government is “keeping the situation under review whether different countries with Covid outbreaks should face different restrictions.”
Health authorities globally are concerned that given the speed with which restrictions have been lifted in China and with so much of the population under vaccinated or unvaccinated, new, more dangerous, variants could evolve.
“What the Italians are doing is post-flight surveillance on arrivals in Italy in order to understand whether there are any emerging variants and to understand the impact of the virus on the Italian health system. That’s a sensible thing to do,” said former health minister Lord Bethell in an interview with the BBC.
The European Union said its health committee would meet later on Thursday to discuss possible measures under a coordinated EU approach.
Read more about the Covid crisis
Lunar New Year ski trips could be under threat as Japan restricts Hong Kong flights.
More relaxations as the SAR prepares for the mainland border reopening next week.
Keep up to date with all the latest family travel news by following Asia Family Traveller on Facebook and Instagram. Don't miss our FREE weekly newsletter straight to your inbox with news, reviews and giveaways.