As COVID-hit China opens up to travel, others secure their doors

india to japan travel restrictions

Japan has announced that it will tighten border controls for all visitors from China by requiring COVID-19 tests starting Friday. This decision comes as Beijing announces the removal of mandatory quarantine for overseas arrivals. The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concerns about the surge in severe COVID-19 cases in China after the country abandoned its “zero-COVID” policy. While Beijing acknowledges the increase in cases, it downplays the spread of the virus after implementing strict lockdown measures for the past three years. However, on January 8, China plans to downgrade its coronavirus threat levels and make it easier for mainland residents to travel abroad.

China’s outbound travel, which used to be a significant contribution to the global tourism industry, almost disappeared since 2020 due to the pandemic. Now, Chinese tourists will be able to travel abroad again without the need for quarantine upon their return. However, passengers arriving from abroad are still required to present a negative test result within 48 hours of departure and wear masks during the flight.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, stated that China has been refining its COVID-19 response based on the evolving situation. While China is slowly opening up, other countries are becoming more cautious about the entry of Chinese visitors due to the spike in cases.

Japan, for instance, will enforce the quantitative antigen test, which is currently conducted on suspected COVID-19 cases, for all individuals arriving from mainland China. Those who test positive will be quarantined for seven days at designated facilities, and their samples will be used for genome analysis. This measure will be implemented just as Japan enters the New Year’s holiday season, where parties and travel are expected, potentially leading to an increase in infections.

India has also recently mandated COVID-19 tests for travelers from China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Thailand. Quarantine measures are in place for individuals with symptoms or positive test results. Additionally, India has begun randomly testing 2 percent of international passengers arriving at airports. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed concerns about China’s lack of information-sharing and transparency regarding the infections, making it challenging for Japan to assess and establish safety measures. He highlighted the discrepancies between information from central and local authorities, as well as between the government and private organizations. Kishida stated that the decision to implement the special measure was made in response to the situation.

However, Wang subtly criticized Japan and India’s border measures, emphasizing the importance of science-based and appropriate pandemic measures that do not impede normal personnel exchanges. Kishida clarified that Japan’s new measure aims to prevent a rapid increase in infections within the country and is not intended to halt the global movement of people. Japan will remain flexible and closely monitor the situation in China, including potentially suspending the planned increase of flights between the two countries for safety reasons. For the time being, direct flights between China and Japan will be limited to four major Japanese airports. Kishida reassured that Japan’s ongoing transition towards a “with-COVID” lifestyle will continue while closely monitoring the domestic infections.

Earlier this year, Japan stopped requiring COVID-19 tests for entrants who had received at least three vaccine shots, reflecting the country’s cautious approach to easing restrictions after almost two years of virtually closed borders to foreign tourists.

In conclusion, as China begins to open up for travel, other countries like Japan and India are taking precautionary measures to secure their doors. While China is easing its COVID-19 policies and allowing outbound travel, concerns about rising cases have led to tightened border controls in Japan and India. The global response to the evolving situation will play a crucial role in managing the spread of the virus and ensuring the safety of international travelers.

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