Are we returning to the world of travel restrictions?

China abandons zero Covid policy - Shutterstock

China abandons zero Covid policy – Shutterstock

There is a certain irony in the way the long-awaited reopening of the world’s most notorious Covid-wary country has sparked a global stampede for the reintroduction of travel restrictions.

The era of pre-flight testing and vaccine certification seemed to be in the rearview mirror, but the response to China’s abandonment of its zero-COVID policy and the subsequent rise in infections means a path back to normal. looks a little more dangerous.

Numerous countries, including the United Kingdom, are now requiring travelers from China to provide proof of a negative test if they wish to visit. Other countries want the same thing, not only for those coming from China, but also for those coming from neighboring countries. Morocco has completely banned flights from China, and Thailand has taken perhaps the most drastic step by bringing back rules that require proof of Covid vaccine for all passengers entering the country.

Should we be worried about this new direction of travel? Continuing the automobile metaphor, are we turning into oncoming traffic or are we just encountering a pothole?

Julie Lo Bue-Said, CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “The launch of testing for those arriving from China shows that lessons have not been learned from the pandemic – the implementation of such barriers makes no difference in the spread of infection. However, they are of concern to anyone planning to travel and we should hope that this remains a temporary signal and that governments begin to follow science, not politics, when making these decisions.

Below, we’ve outlined some key countries that have tightened their travel rules. The list is not comprehensive.

UK – test for arrivals from China

If you are arriving in the UK from China and are 12 years of age or older, you must have a negative Covid-19 test no later than two days before your trip and show proof of it when boarding the plane.

“From January 8, some passengers will also be invited to a voluntary test on arrival to monitor for potential new variables,” the State Department (FCDO) website states. “This applies only to passengers aged 18 and over traveling from mainland China and arriving at Heathrow Airport.”

USA – test for arrivals from China

Air travelers aged two and over traveling to the United States from China, Hong Kong or Macau since January 5 and traveling from Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver who have been in China, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 10 days Passengers on board must: show a negative Covid-19 test result taken no more than two days before their flight’s departure. More details on the CDC website.

Also note that the USA is one of the few countries that still requires proof of vaccination for all arrivals as a condition of entry.

Canada – test for arrivals from China

As in the USA, travelers aged two years and older entering Canada from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau will need to provide evidence of a recent negative PCR or rapid antigen test.

France – test for arrivals from China

European countries, including France, have also reimposed restrictions. All passengers arriving by direct flight or connecting from China must present a negative result of an antigen or PCR test taken within the previous 48 hours. It is now mandatory to wear a mask on flights from China.

Spain – proof of testing and vaccination for those arriving from China

On January 3, Spain reinstated mandatory vaccination and testing requirements for all travelers from China. The FCDO website adds: “Passengers from China will be required to undergo visual and temperature checks on arrival and may be subject to a diagnostic test for active infection at the point of entry. Children under 12 and passengers in transit on the airside for 24 hours or less exempt from necessity.”

More information can be found on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Health. These requirements do not apply to travelers from Hong Kong to Spain.

Germany – test for arrivals from China

Germany has also joined the growing list of countries that are implementing mandatory testing on arrivals from China.

The German government’s website also states that “people residing in the People’s Republic of China still need a substantial reason to enter Germany (due to reciprocity)”.

Italy – test for arrivals from China

Italy reinstated mandatory COVID-19 testing for travelers from China, including those transiting through Italy, on 28 December. Children aged five and under are exempt provided they do not show Covid symptoms.

More information can be found on the website of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Morocco – Banned from China

It’s the Moroccan government that has taken things a step further, banning travelers from China altogether. The FCDO website states: “Effective from January 3, Morocco has, until further notice, imposed a ban on all travelers from China, regardless of nationality. This ban applies to persons leaving China seven days before their arrival in Morocco. it is invalid.”

India – test for arrivals from several Asian countries

The test is back for trips to India for those from China (including Hong Kong) and four more: Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Japan. Passengers from these countries are also required to submit a self-declaration form and upload a negative PCR report (72 hours before departure) on the Air Suvidha portal.

Thailand – test for all arrivals

The strongest response to the reopening of China was received by Thailand, which has confirmed its plans to require all overseas arrivals to present proof of vaccination.

As reported by the Bangkok Post, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnviraku said: “New measures are necessary as Thailand is a major destination for travelers from many countries, including China, but the measures should not be discriminatory.”

The principle is that there will be no discrimination against a particular country because Covid-19 is spreading in all countries and the strains are similar.

It is unclear when the change will take effect and how long it will remain in effect. FCDO has not yet updated its website with further information.

Australia – test for arrivals from China

Those arriving from China, Hong Kong and Macau must now also present proof of a negative test taken within 48 hours of their scheduled departure. Children under 12 are exempt.

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