A Step Towards Normalcy: China Reopens Its Borders

Ava Stuzin, News Editor

Since Jan. 8, China has begun to relax its strict COVID-19 rules for entry into the country after almost three years of the previous protocol. For those three years, strict border restrictions distanced China from the rest of the world. 

“I think it is kind of crazy. They went from basically locked down every other week, to completely open, and they do not have the healthcare infrastructure to take care of the vaccinations [needed]. And the vaccinations that are developed in China are not the Pfizer-Moderna ones, so we really do not know how effective they are,” Miami Palmetto Senior High School senior and Vice President of Chinese National Honors Society Luke Yang said.

The long-awaited amendment to the rule was met with a high demand for bookings, specifically in preparation for the Lunar New Year, beginning on Jan. 21.

Those arriving in China with negative PCR tests within 48 hours of their flight will not have to face a quarantine and will be permitted to enter the country directly.

However, this phase of reopening is unexpected to restore the tourism market. Instead, it will allow Chinese nationals and those with valid residence permits and visas to travel abroad again. Foreigners will need an official permit or visa from the Chinese Embassy to enter the country, which can only be accessed for those with serious reasons. 

The new policies set by China are meant to restart travel for business, education and family. At the moment, there is no word on whether China will reopen for tourism and when that would be.

Chinese cities were previously locked down in pursuit of China’s “zero COVID” method, with the goal of entirely stopping the virus from spreading. Those restrictions led to angry demonstrations and protests.

As China begins to loosen its entry rules, other countries such as Japan are doing the opposite as COVID-19 cases from China begin to rise. On Dec. 30, 2022, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said border restrictions would begin to tighten for travelers from China.

“At least in the short term, it is a valid concern, because a lot of people are getting sick because of the aforementioned reasons. A lot of my family members have caught COVID in their cities, and a lot of [other] people are getting sick,” Yang said.