China is cutting the time that people coming from abroad must stay in a Covid-19 quarantine facility in half, from two weeks to one, the country’s National Health Commission said Tuesday.
The move was welcomed by some investors, but greeted cautiously by others. Since early 2020, China has enforced some of the strictest entry regulations in the world, requiring nearly everyone coming from abroad to spend a minimum of 14 days in government-led quarantine — often in a designated hotel — followed by home isolation.
The new National Health Commission rules say time in the facility will be reduced to seven days, followed by three days in home isolation with regular testing for the virus.
Chinese investors seemed to welcome the changes. Foreign companies and some Chinese companies have complained that the government’s Covid isolation and closure rules stifled business from traveling abroad and visits to China by discouraging investors and customers. The Shanghai stock exchange jumped after the new rules were announced.
But the European Chamber of Commerce in China reacted cautiously, pointing out that local governments across China have often imposed additional quarantine and testing requirements.
“While the NHC has recommended that it be rolled out nationwide, it remains to be seen whether it will be implemented by all local authorities,” Joerg Wuttke, the chamber’s chairman, said in an email commentary, referring to the National Health Commission. †
“China may need to maintain a limited immigration policy after the summer of 2023,” said Mr Wuttke, highlighting the country’s relatively low Covid vaccination rates among the elderly, and the Chinese government’s unwillingness to provide more effective, foreign-based vaccines. to roll out developed mRNA vaccines.
The quarantine period for people found to be close contacts of Covid carriers will also be reduced from 14 days in a centralized facility, followed by a week of home isolation to seven days, followed by three days of home isolation and monitoring.
The new rules do not abandon the Chinese government’s “dynamic zero” goal of eliminating nearly all Covid infections through regular testing and, when clusters of infections are found, closures of homes, neighborhoods and even entire cities. But the rules indicated that the government is trying to mitigate the impact on people and the economy.
Travelers from abroad also no longer have to endure viral swabs from their noses, an often eye-watering experience. Throat swabs are sufficient.
Joy Dong contributed reporting.