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CHINA: Reopens to Hong Kong and the World: 8 January, 2023

CHINA: Reopens to Hong Kong and the World: 8 January, 2023

Previously, I wrote that China could re-open soon with little or no quarantine requirements, thus kick-starting the world’s travel industry and re-introducing some substantial competition from China-based airlines. Looks like that’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

Quarantine Requirements Lifted, but PCR test still required

As of January 8, China will no longer require quarantine for inbound travellers, according to the country’s National Health Commission. Visitors will be required to present a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours of their flight’s departure, but there will be no mandatory testing upon arrival or in the following days.

a long shot of a wall
Great Wall, China

China Reopens Border with Hong Kong

China is also lifting quarantine requirements for cross-border travellers between Hong Kong and the mainland. Border restrictions between the two regions have been in place for nearly three years, including daily quotas on entering China from Hong Kong. Groups of Hong Kong residents may be given priority in the initial reopening in order to manage the influx of visitors.

airplanes at an airport
Hong Kong – Cathay Pacific 747s

Hong Kong Prepares for Reopening

Hong Kong is preparing to resume high-speed rail services with mainland China. Most of Hong Kong’s border checkpoints have been closed since early 2020.

Tourist Visas Not Yet Issued

China hasn’t yet started issuing tourist visas, which may mean that the first stage of reopening will only be between the mainland and Hong Kong. Whether this then allows Chinese nationals to resume travel to other countries is unclear.

a group of people standing in front of Forbidden City

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

Commentators predict that the re-entry of Chinese airlines will bring much-needed capacity and, therefore, competition back into the market and could put downward pressure on airfares on some routes. The question will be whether travel in and out of China will expand and whether staffing issues at airports and airlines will be handled better than when flying resumed in the west.

Just remember that China appears to be undergoing a severe wave of COVID infection now that the COVID-Zero policy has been abandoned. I would definitely be wearing a mask while travelling in China, including Hong Kong, given the outbreaks, low level of immunisation, and relatively (to western versions) ineffective vaccines.

This story was written with the assistance of ChatGPT. Images are © Stephen Schuetz.

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