The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it is “extremely disappointed” with the individual countries that introduced COVID-19 tests for passengers arriving from China, after the Asian country dropped its zero-COVID-19 policy.
“Several countries are introducing COVID-19 testing and other measures for travelers from China, even though the virus is already circulating widely within their borders. It is extremely disappointing to see this knee-jerk reinstatement of measures that have proven ineffective over the last three years,” said Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA.
In late December, China’s National Health Commission said it will stop requiring inbound travelers to go into quarantine starting Jan. 8, 2023. Chinese people, isolated from the rest of the world for almost three years by stringent COVID-19 rules, flocked to travel sites almost immediately after the announcement, as reported by MBN.
Although currently there are no official restrictions for Chinese people traveling abroad, the new rule will make it much easier for them to return home. Within half an hour of the news, searches for popular cross-border destinations increased tenfold. The reopening immediately caused concern in the EU, with Italy announcing it will require a PCR test for all travelers from China. Spain and France quickly implemented similar measures.
In an EU commission meeting on Wednesday in Brussels, member states decided not to make a PCR test compulsory for travelers arriving from China but strongly recommended them. Travelers are advised to wear face masks at any time on flights to and from China, as reported by Air Insight. On Thursday, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Sweden and Greece said they will require PCR testing for travelers inbound from China. Elsewhere, the US, Canada, Chile, Australia, India, Qatar, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan, among others, will require a PCR test too.
Research around the Omicron variant concluded that putting barriers in the way of travel made no difference to the peak spread of infections, said Walsh: “Governments should listen to the advice of experts, including the WHO, that advise against travel restrictions. We have the tools to manage COVID-19 without resorting to ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity, damage economies and destroy jobs. Governments must base their decisions on ‘science facts’ rather than ‘science politics.’”
During the pandemic, Mexico was recognized as one of the countries that enforced the fewer COVID-19 restrictions, helping its tourism and aviation industry during those difficult times. Currently, Mexico has not implemented any new measures for travelers coming from China. Within the next five years, the country’s goal is to receive about 200,000 yearly visitors from China, according to the Ministry of Tourism.