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China: Quarantine to end for inbound overseas travelers

International travelers will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival in China starting Jan 8, according to the country's latest policy on epidemic control.

Inbound passengers will only be required to present a negative nucleic acid test result for COVID-19 obtained within 48 hours of boarding, according to the policy change, which was announced by the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism on Tuesday.

COVID-19 testing upon arrival will be scrapped, and as long as passengers' health declarations are normal and they show no signs of illness in a routine checkup while clearing customs, they will not be subject to any special restrictions while in the country.

Since March 2020, travelers to the Chinese mainland have been required to quarantine, typically at a designated hotel for about 14 days. The quarantine policy, which has evolved over time, currently requires five days of quarantine at a centralized facility, followed by three days at home.

In addition, restrictions on international flights, such as the "Five-One" policy — a rule under which a single country can only send one flight from one airline via one route once per week — will also be lifted, but in-flight mask wearing will still be required, the State Council said.

It added that visa arrangements for foreigners to enter the country for work, business, study, family reunions or other social events will be improved, while restrictions on outbound travel will also be eased.

"In light of the international epidemic situation and service capacity, the outbound travel of Chinese citizens will be resumed in an orderly manner," it said.

The National Health Commission announced on Monday that starting Jan 8, China will downgrade management of the disease from Category A to Category B in accordance with the Law of the People's Republic of China on Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Disease. It has also renamed the term "novel coronavirus pneumonia" to "novel coronavirus infection".


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