Despite Beijing’s threats to put reciprocal restrictions on travelers leaving for the EU, EU officials have proposed that all passengers flying from China into the EU be compelled to show proof of a recent negative test for Covid-19.
The European Commission’s previous suggestion is in line with the memo released by the EU’s Integrated Political Crisis Response group (IPCR) on Wednesday, 4th January. It also comes only a few days before China opens its borders to foreign travelers once more on Sunday (8th January).
The IPCR further urges EU governments to undertake random Covid testing for travelers arriving from China as well as the recommendation that all passengers on flights between China and the EU wear face covers. Additionally, research advises that airports with routes into China screen effluent.
Pre-departure testing procedures for travelers arriving from China have already been reintroduced in several EU countries, as well as in the UK, US, India, Japan, and Australia. However, operators and experts are getting ready for a pick-up in international leisure travel to and from China.
The UK has implemented new regulations that, as of Thursday, 5 January, require visitors from China to show proof of a recent, negative Covid-19 test that was performed no more than two days before departure.
Additionally, starting on Sunday (8 January), the UK Health Security Agency will step up its Covid monitoring efforts. As part of this, a sample of travelers arriving in England from the Chinese mainland will have their blood tested for Covid.
However, Mark Harper, the transport secretary, has disallowed putting any quarantine or self-isolation requirements on visitors from China who test positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in the UK.
He noted that in the absence of China releasing its own statistics on its rampant Covid epidemic, testing initiatives headed by the UK will act as a data gathering exercise. Tests will be sequenced to look for possible novel Covid-19 variations.
This week, a representative for China’s foreign ministry stated that the limitations placed on Chinese travelers “lacked scientific basis” and that the Chinese government would now be considering reciprocal countermeasures.
Iata President Willie Walsh cited Covid-19’s widespread global distribution as evidence that the decision to place limits on arrivals from China was “scientifically unjustified.” This argument was also emphasized by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to Walsh: “It is extremely disappointing to see this knee-jerk reinstatement of measures that have proven ineffective over the last three years.”
Airports Council International (ACI Europe), whose director general is Olivier Jankovec, supported his position, said: “We are once again plunging back into a patchwork of unjustified and uncoordinated travel restrictions, which have no basis in scientific fact.”
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