If you’re planning a trip to China, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.
What’s on offer
This is of course one of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations. China brought us papermaking, printing, and, of course, tea. Its many dynasties have left their marks in world-famous heritage sites, such as the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an, and ancient towns such as Lijiang. But it’s also thoroughly modern, with mushrooming cities and skyscrapers pricking the clouds.
Who can go
China closed its borders to nearly all travelers in March 2020, when the pandemic started spreading throughout Europe.
On March 15, 2021, restrictions were eased for a select number of travelers from 23 countries. Those coming for work or for humanitarian reasons — such as reuniting with family — can apply for visas, as can holders of the APEC Business Travel Card. Residents may also return. All categories, however, must have been vaccinated with Chinese-made vaccines at least 15 days earlier.
China already has a Fast Lane agreement with Singapore, allowing business travelers. Business travelers from South Korea are also allowed in.
Government officials have stated that their goal is to have 40 percent of Chinese citizens vaccinated by June. On June 19, the country officially passed the milestone of giving out more than one billion doses of the vaccine.
Despite rumors that the country would only grant travel visas to people who had gotten the China-created Sinovac vaccine, the Chinese embassy in the United States confirmed on April 20 that travelers with confirmed history of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines would also be eligible.
The “Return2HK” program will kick off on September 15. Under this program, 2,000 eligible people from Macao and the Chinese mainland will be able to enter Hong Kong per day without quarantining.
Half will be permitted to enter via the Shenzhen Bay port and the other half via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port. Proof of a negative Covid test will still be required.
What are the restrictions?
All travelers must present two negative tests — PCR and antibody tests — taken within 48 hours of travel.
For the newly qualified entrants, entry depends on having received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines at least 14 days prior to entry. They must apply for a visa in advance, and show their proof of vaccination on arrival, as well as the negative tests.
Arrivals are screened once more at the airport. Those failing the checks will be sent to government facilities. You must then quarantine on arrival. Some regions demand 14 days; others, 21. This might take place at a government facility or at your home.
All tourism activities in northern central Gansu province, which borders Mongolia and is home to a section of the Great Wall, have been suspended following an uptick in cases in mid-October. All of the confirmed cases have been identified as the Delta variant.