Canada and Australia impose COVID testing requirements on travelers from China : NPR
Ng Han Guan/AP
BEIJING — Australia and Canada have joined a growing list of countries requiring travelers from China to take a COVID-19 test before boarding their flight, as China battles a nationwide coronavirus outbreak after abruptly relaxed the restrictions that were in place for much of the pandemic.
Australian health authorities said on Sunday that from January 5, all air travelers arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within two days of departure.
Canadian authorities announced similar measures that will also come into effect on January 5 in a statement dated Saturday.
Australia and Canada join other countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, India, Japan and several European countries, in imposing stricter COVID-19 measures on Chinese travelers in a amid concerns about the lack of data on infections in China and the possibility of new variants spreading. .
China, which for most of the pandemic adopted a “zero-COVID” strategy that imposed severe restrictions aimed at eradicating the virus, abruptly relaxed those measures in December. Chinese authorities have previously said that from Jan. 8, overseas travelers will no longer need to self-quarantine upon arrival in China, paving the way for Chinese residents to travel.
Hong Kong is also preparing for quarantine-free travel to China, with plans to resume operations at more border checkpoints as early as Jan. 8, according to a Facebook post from Hong Kong Chief Secretary Eric Chan.
However, a quota will remain in place limiting the number of travelers between the two locations.
“Depending on the first phase of the situation, we will gradually expand the scale for a full border reopening,” Chan said.
In China, the easing of restrictions meant residents could celebrate the New Year at large-scale gatherings that were banned for much of the pandemic, even though the country is experiencing a massive outbreak of cases.
“There are still concerns, more or less,” said Wu Yanxia, a 51-year-old Beijinger who works at a logistics company. “I hope next year everything will be normal, like domestic travel.”
Others are hoping that 2023 will bring better things after a difficult past year.
“We have had a very uneven, particularly unforgettable year with a lot of things spun out of our imaginations,” said Li Feng, a teacher in Beijing, adding that 2022 has been a difficult year for both the people and the government.
“But I think we got through it and we’ll be fine,” Li said. “We’ll all be better and better at work and in life.”