With China seeing fewer cases of the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), the country is getting ready to recuperate after a two-month lockdown.
As of 12 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, Hubei Province has lifted their lockdown, while Wuhan—the Chinese city where the coronavirus began—will continue to remain closed until Wednesday, April 8.
According to the Associated Press, practically no new infections have been reported in Hubei in more than a week. Meanwhile, restaurants, businesses, and factories throughout the country have begun to reopen. The Beijing Zoo and sections of the Great Wall have also started welcoming visitors again (by reservation only). Schools in some cites have set late March to mid-April start dates. Though Guangdong Province (the province with the second most cases after Hubei), is still requiring temperature checks and sign-ins at buildings, plus mandatory face masks, it's allowing residents to leave their homes, a much needed return to community after the past eight weeks in quarantine.
Things are looking up. However, for travelers who have plans to travel to China or others who are considering it, there are still questions about whether it's safe and what to expect regarding quarantine procedures.
Travel Restrictions and Regulations in China
Restrictions are changing weekly if not daily in China. For some cities and provinces, regulations depend on what city you are traveling to and where you have been in the past 14 days. For others, quarantines are mandatory, regardless of travelers' points of origin.
While some parts of the country are easing restrictions, Beijing is ramping up theirs in an effort to curtail the number of imported cases. As of Monday, March 23, the city has been diverting all incoming international flights to other destinations like Shanghai and Xian, where passengers are to undergo testing for coronavirus. Foreign travelers who miss their connection must leave China.
Beijing has a stringent quarantine as well; all travelers arriving from overseas must complete a mandatory quarantine of 14 days at their home or in a centralized quarantine location. Short-term travelers on business in Beijing must stay in a government-approved hotel and wait until they have received tests for coronavirus.
Shanghai and Guangzho also have strict regulations, requiring all international travelers to complete a 14-day quarantine in a centralized quarantine location upon arrival.
Quarantines are enforced at the neighborhood level, and procedure can vary by neighborhood. Those under quarantine will most likely be monitored by local authorities. Food delivery, mail, and garbage services will still be available to those in quarantine.
U.S. Government Advisories
Currently, the U.S. State Department has placed China under a Level 4 Travel Advisory, the highest level of advisory possible, meaning U.S. citizens and residents “should not travel.” This does not include Hong Kong, Macao, or Taiwan. U.S. citizens and residents who are returning from China will be routed to one of 11 specially designated U.S. airports where health screenings will be conducted upon arrival.
Those who have been in Hubei Province in the past 14 days will be checked for symptoms, then be placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Travelers who have been in other parts of China in the last 14 days will also be screened for symptoms and either quarantined or allowed to complete their itinerary, and self-quarantine at their final destination.
Foreign nationals who have been in China in the last 14 days cannot enter the U.S.
Should You Travel to China?
In short, now is not the best time to go to China, but if you must, be prepared for a 14-day quarantine, possibly both there and upon your return to the U.S. Decreasing numbers of new confirmed cases in China are encouraging, but as the country is still home to the largest numbers of the outbreak, it's best to postpone or cancel your travel plans for the near future unless they're absolutely necessary.