Travelers check in with Cathay Pacific at Hong Kong International Airport on December 20, 2022.
Vernon Yuen | Norphoto | Getty Images
BEIJING – Some countries have announced new Covid testing requirements for visitors from China after the mainland said it would finally relax border controls.
Japan was the first country to subsequently launch rule changes, followed by the United States and other countries. Covid-19 infections rose this month in mainland China, but there is limited data available to the public.
Here are some of the recent policy changes for travelers from China:
Starting in January. Prime Minister Han Duk-soo said on Friday that all visitors to South Korea through the end of the month will need to show a negative Covid test before boarding flights to the country. He said travelers will also need to be tested for Covid upon arrival in South Korea.
It was not clear what would happen to the passengers who tested positive after their arrival.
“The South Korean government feels the need to take measures to prevent further local spread of the Covid virus, as we see a situation worsening in China as the nation eases its restrictions,” Han said in Korean, according to CNBC’s translation.
Han said the country will only allow flights from China to land in Incheon and will temporarily halt plans to increase the number of flights from China.
Starting in January. 5, all airline passengers two years of age or older arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau upon departure to the United States will be required to show a negative Covid-19 test result within the past two days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.
The rules apply to people of all nationalities and vaccination status.
A federal health official told reporters that testing is down across China and it’s unclear what variants are circulating on the mainland because genetic surveillance data is also limited.
The local Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday that all travelers from mainland China via direct flight or boat for January will need to be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival in Taiwan.
Those who test positive can self-quarantine at home, the notice said.
The rules will not apply to flights from Hong Kong or Macau.
The European country’s health minister said on Wednesday that all travelers coming from China to Italy will need to be tested for Covid-19, even if they are just passing through.
The minister said the country would also sequence the virus, but did not say what would happen to travelers who tested positive.
Health authorities in regions near Milan and Rome said travelers who test positive for the virus will have to be quarantined in designated buildings, Reuters reported.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Thursday that Australia will not add restrictions on visitors from China, according to an official transcript from his interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Albanese said Australia would monitor conditions in China and other countries, and would receive “appropriate advice” from health experts. “Our priority is to keep Australians as safe as possible,” he said.
Omicron – more transmissible but causing less severe disease – has become the dominant variant of Covid globally over the past year. Most of the world moved into a state of coexistence with the virus months before China ended many of its Covid controls this month.
Starting in January. Beijing announced on Monday that inbound travelers to China will no longer need to be quarantined upon arrival. Visitors will still need to show a negative for Covid-19 within the last 48 hours.
Chinese authorities also said they would improve visa processing for foreigners, summarizing Chinese citizens’ passport applications for travel abroad, including tourism. No exact time frame has been specified.
—CNBC’s Jihye Lee and Spencer Kimball contributed to this report.