China eases Covid-19 travel rules, but they remain onerous | Tech US News

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cHina is loosening its strict zero-Covid policy for travelers in several key ways, but international visitors will still have to jump through a lot of hoops.

Chinese authorities have announced an end to the so-called “circuit breaker” policy of suspending airlines when five or more passengers on an inbound flight test positive for Covid. Passengers flying to China will only be required to take a pre-departure Covid test within 48 hours of departure, instead of two, according to a notice from China’s State Council.

But international travelers without a permanent address in China will still have to spend a total of eight days in hotel quarantine.

The Chinese government’s statement did not mention when the changes would take effect.

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China’s ultra-tight restrictions – including lockdowns, mass testing, contact tracing and quarantines – have kept the Covid-19 infection rate relatively low, but only by keeping people from meeting in schools, businesses, shops and attractions. Millions of people are currently stranded in western and southern China, the Associated Press reported.

The pandemic and aggressive Covid restrictions have hit China’s tourism sector. Domestic travel was down 27% compared to 2019 levels, the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism reported in September.

The new regulatory changes are also expected to have a major impact on destinations that traditionally welcome large numbers of Chinese tourists. Before the pandemic, about 2.83 million Chinese arrivals to the United States spent an average of $6,700 each in 2019, according to the United States Travel Association.

News of the easements has already boosted China’s top travel and hotel stocks. Shares of two major Shanghai-based companies – Trip.com, the country’s largest online travel agency, and hospitality chain H World Group – rose about 17% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Friday.

The US State Department currently has a Level 3 travel advisory issued for China, advising Americans to “reconsider travel … due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws and restrictions related to Covid-19”.

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