As of April 29th, a negative PCR is no longer required to enter China, authorities announced last week. An antigen test carried out a maximum of two days before boarding will be sufficient, regardless of the origin. The spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mao Ning, explained the new measures at a press conference, according to AP News. Ning said the new policy is guided by the principle of ensuring safe and orderly travel. Authorities underlined that they are keeping the measures science-based and well-targeted.
Airlines will no longer be obliged to request test results to allow passengers to board the plane, according to official media. All China-bound travelers are required to declare negative test result to China Customs by filling in the Health Declaration Form on the WeChat mini-program of China Customs.
Travelers need to finish customs procedures with their health declaration code, and China Customs will conduct sampling inspection of all declarations. Inbound travelers with no issues to report in their health declaration and have been given regular customs inspection can enter China without being subject to quarantine. Those with issues to report in their health declaration or symptoms such as fever shall receive tests at the customs. Those who test positive may self-quarantine at home or place of residence or seek medical attention by following relevant instructions.
After entry into China, passengers will have to strictly abide by the epidemic prevention and control requirements of the place where they stay. All China-bound travelers should strictly abide by the epidemic prevention requirements of the airlines throughout the flight and take good personal protection to reduce the risk of infection.
China has maintained strict control measures against Covid-19, which it did not begin to relax until the end of 2022, after a number of protests in the country. From March 15th, visas began to be issued to foreigners again, a major relaxation of travel restrictions in place since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country welcomed 65.7 million international visitors in 2019, according to data from the UN World Tourism Organization, before the pandemic led the country to close itself off from the rest of the world. While most other countries began fully reopening their economies and welcoming international travelers earlier, China only began to exit its strict policies in late 2022.
After the lifting of travel restrictions, China’s aviation industry has been facing a cabin crew shortage as airlines struggle to cope with increased travel demand. According to data from the Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC), the total number of flight attendants in China fell by around 11,000, or an 11% drop from the pre-pandemic level of 108,955 in 2019. According to Reuters, companies such as Xiamen Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Spring Airlines are actively hiring. Hainan Airlines which plans to hire more than 1,000 flight attendants this year, has already received more than 20,000 applications, the airline told Reuters.
“If the market recovers well, the number of international flights (to and from China) by the end of the year is expected to reach about 80% of the pre-pandemic Covid-19 level, with about 7,300 flights per week,” CAAC Director Liang Nan said. “Chinese and foreign airlines are optimistic about international flights.”
An official of the National Health Commission, He Qinghua, announced last week that the number of Covid-19 cases in early April had dropped to the lowest level since December, as reported by Travel Weekly. The figures have increased slightly since mid-April, but He Qinghua asserted that a substantial increase in contagion cases in the short term is unlikely.