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Traveling to China during Covid-19: what you need to know before you go

Editor’s note – Coronavirus cases remain high around the world. Health officials warn that travel increases your chances of contracting and spreading the virus. Staying at home is the best way to contain transmission. Below is information on what to know if you’re still planning to travel, last updated on May 28.

(CNN) – If you are planning a trip to China, here is what you need to know and expect if you are planning to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The basics

The Covid-19 pandemic has started in the Chinese province of Wuhan, but early and strict closures mean the country is under control. However, most visitors are not yet allowed in.

What’s on offer

It is of course one of the greatest ancient civilizations in the world. China brought us papermaking, printing and, of course, tea. Its many dynasties have left their mark on world-famous heritage sites, such as the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors of Xian, and ancient cities such as Lijiang. But it’s also utterly modern, with cities popping up like mushrooms and skyscrapers pricking the clouds.

Who can go

China closed its borders to almost all travelers in March 2020, when the pandemic began to spread across Europe.

On March 15, 2021, restrictions were relaxed for a number of travelers from 23 countries. Those who come for work or for humanitarian reasons – such as family reunification – can apply for a visa, as can holders of the APEC Business Travel Card. Residents can also return. However, all categories must have been vaccinated with vaccines made in China 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 to enter.

Government officials have said their goal is to have 40% of Chinese citizens vaccinated by June. As of May 20, 400 million people in the country had been vaccinated, of which 100 million had been vaccinated within a nine-day window. This places China well ahead of the United States and the United Kingdom in the total number of vaccinations.

Despite rumors that the country would only grant travel visas to people who have received the Sinovac vaccine created in China, the Chinese Embassy in the United States confirmed on April 20 that travelers with a confirmed vaccine history from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson the vaccines would also be eligible.

What are the restrictions?

All travelers must present two negative tests – PCR and antibody tests – performed within 48 hours of travel.

For qualified new entrants, entry depends on having received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to entry. They must apply for a visa in advance, and show proof of vaccination on arrival, as well as negative tests.

Arrivals are again checked at the airport. Those who fail the checks will be sent to government facilities. You must then quarantine upon arrival. Some areas require 14 days; others, 21. This can take place at a government facility or at your home.

What is the situation of the Covid?

China has reported 102,925 cases and 4,846 deaths as of May 28, 2021.

Mainland China reported two local cases of Covid-19 in eastern Anhui province on May 13, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.

Two areas in Lu’an City and one area in Feixi County have been declared “medium risk” areas following the new infections.

Beijing-based CanSino Biologics has announced that it is starting clinical trials for a Covid vaccine nasal spray.

What can visitors expect?

Life has largely returned to normal, but things can change quickly in China – regional lockdowns have been imposed whenever there are new outbreaks of the virus, most recently in an area near Beijing. The capital was placed in partial closure in January.

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CNN’s Julia Buckley and Lilit Marcus contributed to this report



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