China reopens borders after ending ‘zero Covid’ policy

Beijing, Jan 8 (EFE).- China on Sunday reopened to the rest of the world after almost three years of closing its borders by officially downgrading Covid-19 from the top-level category A infectious disease to category B, thereby marking the end of its stringent ‘zero Covid’ policy.

This downgrade from the highest level that indicates the highest risk and whose containment kicks in the most severe measures to a less strict category that does not require lockdowns and isolation will allow travelers to enter the country without the mandatory quarantine imposed since March of 2020.

People walk at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, 08 January 2023. EFE-EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO

China’s reopening occurs just one day after the start of the “chunyun” Spring festival, a 40-day period that is the largest annual migration in the world and takes place every year during the Lunar New Year, which in 2023 will fall between Jan. 21 and 27 and is expected to draw tens of thousands of overseas Chinese citizens back to the country.

The first international flight to land in the Asian country after the reopening was China Southern Airlines’ CZ312 between the Canadian city of Toronto and Guangzhou.

The flight landed in the Chinese city at 12:16 am on Sunday, state media China Daily reported.

Flight CX344 from Hong Kong to Beijing became the first cross-border flight to arrive at 10:40 am at the Beijing Capital International Airport at Terminal 3, which reopened section 3-E to cope with all flights scheduled for the day.

Since Mar. 10, 2020, passengers arriving in Beijing had been required to enter the airport’s Terminal 3-D before undergoing a mandatory multiple-day quarantine at a designated hotel.

Not only those flying to the country benefit from the paradigm shift in China’s coronavirus policy.

The land border checkpoints have also witnessed a flow of people wishing to take advantage of the lifting of quarantine rules to enter the country.

The Hekou port on the China-Vietnam border saw a return to commercial activity.

Many people came with flowers to hug family and friends on the other side for the first time since 2020, when the port closed due to Covid-19, official newspaper Global Times reported.

The first group of people also crossed the Erenhot port, the largest checkpoint between China and Mongolia and located in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regions, after 1,016 days since the strict ‘zero Covid’ policy was implemented.

Likewise, tens of thousands of Hong Kongers took advantage of the reopening of borders to enter China on Sunday by sea, land and air. EFE

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