China reopens borders to tourists after three years of closure due to Covid

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China has reopened its borders to foreign visitors for the first time since travel restrictions were imposed in March 2020.

Arriving travelers will no longer need to undergo quarantine, marking a major change in the country’s Covid policy as it grapples with a surge in cases.

They will still require confirmation of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of travel.

This move was welcomed by many people who are eager to be reunited with their families.

In Hong Kong, 400,000 people are expected to travel to mainland China in the coming weeks, with long queues for flights to cities such as Beijing and Xiamen.

One woman told the Reuters news agency that she had not seen her parents for years, despite one of them suffering from colon cancer, and said she was “so happy”.

The country reopens at the start of “chun yun,” the first travel period for the Lunar New Year. Before the pandemic, it was the world’s largest annual migration of people returning home to spend time with family.

According to the lunar calendar, two billion people are expected to travel on New Year’s Day, which is twice as many as last year.

For the past three years, China has had one of the world’s strictest Covid health policies, involving multiple quarantines, frequent testing requirements and a significant impact on the country’s economy.

The government recently abandoned the policy after mass protests across the country sparked by a fire at a high-rise building in the Xinjiang region that killed 10 people. Many Chinese believed that prolonged Covid restrictions contributed to the deaths, but the authorities denied this.

As China scrapped key elements of its Covid-zero policy, there have been reports of overcrowding in hospitals and crematoriums, but the country has stopped publishing case numbers and reported just two deaths yesterday.

Just yesterday the Chinese government banned more than 1,000 social media accounts that criticized its handling of the virus.

The expected rise in cases and visitors has prompted many countries, including the UK, to introduce negative COVID-19 test requirements for travelers from China, angering the Chinese government.

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