In a significant move towards normalizing international travel, China is scrapping the Covid testing requirement for incoming travelers, starting August 30, 2023. The policy shift marks a turning point for the nation after nearly three years of stringent isolation measures. The announcement came during a briefing by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in Beijing on Monday, August 28th.
China’s strict “zero-Covid” policy imposed considerable constraints on international travelers as well as residents, with city-wide lockdowns and extended quarantines for infected citizens. Incoming passengers often faced weeks-long isolation in government-approved hotels, with residents sometimes confined to their homes in efforts to contain the virus. These measures occasionally led to protests, increased unemployment, and disruptions in major cities.
The decision to eliminate the testing requirement aligns with China’s gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions and quarantine measures for international travelers. Until now, inbound travelers have been mandated to provide a negative Covid-19 test, either nucleic acid or antigen, before boarding their flights. However, the new policy abolishes this requirement, paving the way for a smoother entry process.
China’s latest policy adjustment underscores the nation’s growing confidence in managing the pandemic while emphasizing its commitment to revive its economy and international travel. It follows earlier moves, including the elimination of quarantine mandates for Chinese citizens returning from abroad in January and the expansion of the list of countries Chinese nationals can visit. This expansion coincides with increased international flight options, such as the first post-Covid era flight from Wuhan to Europe.