China has reopened its borders for the first time since it self-imposed travel restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 as part of its zero-Covid strategy.
Travellers to the country will not be required to quarantine when they arrive, but they will have to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of travelling.
On Sunday, mainland China also opened its border to Hong Kong, allowing people to travel across the border via plane, bus or train. It is expected that 400,000 people will travel into mainland China from the region over the next few weeks, with long queues already forming for flights to Beijing and Xiamen.
The reopening coincides with the first period of Lunar New Year travel; Chunyun. Before the pandemic, this was the largest annual worldwide migration of people returning home to visit family. Two billion trips are expected to be made this year, which is double last year’s number.
However, there is concern that the reopening of borders will result in higher transmission of Covid-19 cases. There have already been reports that hospitals and crematoriums in the country are overwhelmed. The latest case numbers have stopped being published too, with only two deaths reported on Saturday.
The expected surge in cases, as well as travel out of China, has led to many countries like the US, Italy and other countries reintroducing Covid testing requirements for travellers from China to their countries. This decision has angered the Chinese government.