China Eases Covid Testing Requirements For U.S. Travelers, Shanghai Inches Towards Reopening
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Topline

Chinese authorities have eased Covid-19 testing requirements for travelers flying from the U.S. and a few other countries as China seeks to restore normalcy after its economy was hit by pandemic restrictions, while its financial hub Shanghai recovers from its worst-ever outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

Key Facts

The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. issued an updated notice on Friday that says American travelers will no longer need to take an antibody test or an RT-PCR test seven days before their flights.

Travelers are still required to take two separate RT-PCR tests—taken 48 hours and 24 hours before the flight—along with another antigen test taken before boarding.

People with prior infections will still be required to undergo quarantine for six weeks before proceeding with the other testing procedures.

The new rules will go into effect for passengers flying out from Friday onwards for American travelers while the same will apply to Canadian travelers starting from Sunday.

The easing of travel restrictions comes as China’s financial hub, Shanghai, moves closer to ending its nearly two-month lockdown as the city reports zero new Covid cases outside designated quarantine zones, Reuters reports.

Some Shanghai residents were allowed to enter a grocery store—after standing in a socially distanced queue—where they were allowed to shop for 40 minutes and spend a maximum of ¥500 ($74).

Tangent

Even as China has updated its testing requirements for American visitors, the U.S. State Department still has an active travel advisory in place asking its citizens to reconsider travel to the country. The advisory was put in place last month due to China’s severe quarantine and lockdown measures, as per its ‘zero-Covid’ policy. The advisory warns about “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” and Covid restrictions—including the risk of “parents and children being separated.”

Key Background

Earlier this week, authorities in Shanghai laid out a timetable for ending the city’s nearly two-month-long lockdown. The reopening is set to take place in phases with restrictions on most movement staying in place for at least another two days. The lockdown is expected to be fully lifted on June 1, but residents of the city will still be expected to undertake regular testing. Despite facing criticism, China has vowed to stick to its ‘zero-Covid’ plan, however, the lockdown of its financial hub has had a major impact on the country’s economy.

Further Reading

China relaxes some COVID test rules for U.S., other travelers (Reuters)

Some in Shanghai allowed out to shop; end of COVID lockdown in sight (Reuters)

Shanghai Hits Key ‘Zero-Covid’ Milestone But No Immediate End To Lockdown Despite Concerns About China’s Economy (Forbes)

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