Rumors have been swirling that the United States will add coronavirus travel restrictions for China and that policy has now been announced. Travelers, regardless of nationality, flying to the United States from China will be asked to present a negative COVID-19 test.
US Will Require Negative COVID-19 Test From Air Passengers From China
After three years, Mainland China (PRC) has abandoned its “zero COVID” policy. Not surprisingly, cases are exploding there. China has resisted far more effective western vaccines and in keeping citizens isolated for years, has weakened the immune systems of its citizens.
While state media and Chinese government officials have reported low daily death numbers, there is widespread belief that such numbers do not accurately reflect reality. Indeed, China has stopped reporting new daily case numbers, instead saying, “From now on, the Chinese CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) will release relevant COVID information for reference and research.”
With cases on the rise and no transparency concerning case and death numbers or even the kind of COVID-19 infecting people (there is concern that a new and potentially more lethal strain may emerge from China suddenly opening the floodgates), the US is adding travel restrictions to incoming Chinese travelers. This comes ahead of the busy Lunar New Year, which typically represents the height of the Chinese travel season.
Beginning at 12:01 am EST on January 5, 2023, all travelers to the USA from China including the Mainland, Hong Kong, and Macau) will be required to provide a COVID-19 test (antigen or PCR) not more than two days before travel. This applies to all travelers aged two and older. Those who can provide proof of a positive test more than 10 days prior to travel do not need to provide a fresh negative test.
Other countries, including Japan, India, South Korea, and Taiwan have announced similar measures. Malaysia will even track Chinese visitors.
This new testing requirement does not target Chinese citizens; it applies to all air travelers departing China. This will also apply to persons traveling from the PRC via third country transit and to passengers connecting through the United States onward to further destinations.
Importantly, along with applying this requirement to direct flights from the PRC, passengers transiting Incheon International Airport (ICN), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on their way to the United States will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test if they have been in the PRC in the last 10 days no more than 2 days before their departure to the United States. These three transit hubs cover the overwhelming majority of passengers with travel originating in the PRC and the Special Administrative Regions.
It is not clear if China will retaliate in any way for these new travel restrictions.
As China re-opens its borders for the first time in nearly three years, the US is tightening them, if ever so slightly. Travelers from China, regardless of nationality, will be required to present a negative test not more than two days old starting on January 5, 2023.
image: Bill Abbott