Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: China maintains international movement restrictions as of April 13. Entry ban on foreigners continues. Domestic controls eased.

This alert affects China

This alert began 12 Apr 2020 21:40 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Mainland China (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport disruptions, health screenings, quarantine measures, business disruptions, supply chain interruptions

Summary
Chinese authorities have marginally expanded international movement controls to prevent imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of April 13, authorities in Yunnan, Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, and Heilongjiang are restricting the movement through land borders with neighboring countries; most travelers, regardless of nationality, are barred from entering or exiting border checkpoints. Cargo transportation remains unaffected by the restrictions. Similar controls are likely to be implemented in additional border areas over the coming weeks.

Foreign nationals have been barred from entering China since March 28. The only exceptions are for diplomatic personnel and holders of C visas, which are generally issued to members of flight and shipping crews. The entry ban will continue until further notice. Foreign nationals present in China before the ban was implemented are not required to leave the country. Nevertheless, foreign nationals have recently experienced intensified scrutiny in some locations. In Guangzhou, some individuals from African countries are facing quarantines regardless of travel history, along with housing and business discrimination after a cluster of imported cases was detected in an area of the city with many African residents.

Since March 29, each Chinese airline has only been allowed to fly one route once weekly to one city per foreign country. Foreign airlines are restricted to flying one route to a destination in China once weekly. Both inbound and outbound flights are only allowed to operate at 75-percent capacity or less. The restrictions will continue to prompt significant flight cancellations for international services. Many airlines have suspended services to and from China due to health concerns and significantly decreased demand.

Additionally, authorities in many Chinese provinces, municipalities, and ethnic autonomous regions are enforcing quarantine measures for international travelers. As of April 13, officials in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Yunnan, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, and Shandong are requiring all inbound travelers, regardless of nationality, to undergo nucleic acid testing and quarantine for 14 days, even if they previously arrived in China through other ports of entry. While these restrictions have technically been implemented on the local level, they appear to be coordinated nationally, and similar measures will likely be imposed at international ports of entry nationwide. Officials are generally allowing nonresident passengers to stay in designated hotels but require travelers to pay for the quarantine measures. Furthermore, some municipal governments are requiring 14-day quarantine periods for domestic travelers arriving from other cities. Officials continue to conduct health screenings, including body temperature scans, on all inbound passengers from international locations at ports of entry nationwide. Authorities are also requiring inbound Chinese nationals to provide health information through the WeChat mobile phone app before boarding flights.

As of April 13, officials in Beijing continue to divert some international flights to nearby cities, where passengers receive health scans; symptomatic passengers receive treatment locally. Asymptomatic passengers are then allowed to continue to Beijing. All inbound international flights are allowed to land at Beijing Capital Airport (PEK), where passengers will undergo further health assessments and review their travel history with authorities before going into quarantine. The municipal government allows some travelers in specific categories to self-quarantine; residents who live alone, travelers over 70 years old, pregnant women, and travelers with underlying conditions may seek permission to stay at home.

Most domestic movement controls have been lifted, with outbound transportation from Wuhan restored on April 8. Mandatory temperature checks and other health screenings continue at transportation hubs, college and school campuses, and businesses. Health screenings are increasing passenger clearance times at airports, train stations, and subway stations. Stricter measures may be reintroduced at the local level if significant outbreaks occur. Most local governments continue to require people to wear face masks in public. The duration, geographic range, and severity of domestic movement restrictions will likely depend on the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in various areas, along with the perceived political and economic interests of Chinese authorities.

Production has restarted at most industrial facilities, though some localized disruptions continue. Authorities in many locations require workers to undergo health screenings before resuming work in factories. Many businesses continue to restrict operating hours and implement work-from-home policies. Reports suggest that some companies are overestimating production to meet national government targets. Supply chain and other business disruptions may continue in many locations in the coming weeks. Officials have reopened most tourist and leisure venues. Most schools remain closed, though schools are beginning to resume in some provinces and regions.

Several national governments have advised citizens to postpone nonessential travel to all parts of mainland China due to concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak and associated movement restrictions. Numerous governments have also indefinitely banned Chinese nationals and foreign nationals who have recently visited China from entering their countries. However, foreign governments may begin to adjust those measures in the coming days as conditions continue to improve in mainland China.

Advice
Unless repatriating, consider postponing nonessential travel to mainland China. Confirm all scheduled international flights. Follow all official instructions and closely monitor official announcements on any other precautionary restrictions. To the extent possible, avoid crowded areas as a precaution. Confirm all travel and business reservations. Allow additional travel time due to screenings at airports, train stations, and other transport hubs. Make allowances for likely supply chain and other business disruptions.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Beijing Capital International Airport: bcia.com.cn

Shanghai Airport Authority: www.shanghaiairport.com

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport: www.gbiac.net

World Health Organization: www.who.int