China confirmed on Friday that it would shorten quarantine periods for inbound international travellers and end a controversial ‘circuit breaker’ flight ban system for airlines that unwittingly brought COVID-positive passengers into the isolated country.
From early on in the pandemic, China has barred airlines from operating a specific route for between one and two weeks if a certain number of passengers tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival.
The system has made organising flights to China risky because a flight could be cancelled at the last minute. Alongside tough quarantine rules, international airlines have pulled most flights from China because of the strict pandemic rules.
In a statement from the National Health Commission and reported by Bloomberg, China will end the flight ban circuit breaker policy and reduce the quarantine by two days.
At the moment, inbound passengers must quarantine in a designated hotel or government facility for seven days and then spend a further three days isolating at home.
The new quarantine rules will see travellers quarantine for three days in a hotel and isolate for three days at home. This could be because the incubation period for the latest variants of COVID-19 are much shorter than the original strain.
The list of 20 measures to ease pandemic controls are the most significant since early 2020 and could be a sign that China is looking to pivot its ‘Zero COVID’ policy that has effectively isolated the country from the rest of the world.
The measures announced on Friday, however, are likely only to appeal to Chinese citizens and students, and airlines are expecting a huge surge in bookings as a result of the changes.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.