Over the past few weeks, China’s Covid measures have seen gradual changes, and various places across China have eased local rules regarding nucleic acid testing and the accessibility of public transport and venues. The most recent epidemic outbreak was dominated by the omicron variant, with the large majority of cases being asymptomatic and mild and a very low mortality rate. Consequently, Covid-19 was downgraded from a category A disease to a category B disease.
Many cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have announced that they will no longer require regular testing for most residents entering mass transit systems and housing estates. Although Chinese media emphasized that the new rules do not mean that China is letting go of its dynamic Zero Covid policy, the recently published ten new rules do indicate that the country is clearly no longer sticking to its ‘zero Covid’ goals.
1. Asymptomatic persons and mild cases can quarantine at home while strengthening health monitoring, and they can transfer to designated hospitals for treatment in a timely manner if their condition worsens.
2. People are no longer required to show a green health code on their phone to enter public buildings and spaces, except for nursing homes, medical institutions, kindergartens, middle and high schools.
3. Instead of RT-PCR tests, rapid PCR tests will be used more. Nucleic acid testing will remain in place for high-risk positions and high-risk area personnel.
4. People traveling between provinces are no longer required to show a negative test taken within 48 hours, and they will not have to test upon arrival.
5. High-risk areas should be accurately defined by building, unit, floor and household, and must not be arbitrarily expanded to include entire residential compounds and communities.
6. Covid vaccination is increasingly stimulated for Chinese seniors, especially in the 60-79 age group.
For travellers from Belgium to China, as from 14 November 2022, the Embassy of China in Belgium adopted new HDC QR code application requirements. Passengers departing from Belgium and taking a direct flight from Belgium to China must take a RT-PCR test and the sampling time should be within 48 hours before boarding. Passengers may choose any legal testing institution in Belgium for RT-PCR testing.
China-bound passengers departing from Belgium and transiting via a third country, or departing from a third country and transiting via Belgium, may choose to take the RT-PCR test either in the country of departure or in the country of transit. The sampling time should be within 48 hours before the boarding time of the direct flight to China. Passengers must apply for an HDC QR code from the embassy or the consulate general in the specific country where the RT-PCR test is performed. Passengers should present the valid HDC QR code while boarding the direct flight to China.
The above-mentioned new requirements also apply to passengers previously infected, close contacts or passengers with suspected symptoms, and there are no more special requirements for passengers that fall into the aforementioned three categories.
For travellers from China to Belgium, there are no more Covid-related restrictions or conditions (PCR test, vaccination certificate, Passenger Locator Form are no longer required).
Please contact the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) in case you need more information.
- Global Times
- WeChat accounts HeyExpat and Expat Focus
- Belgium-China WeChat group
- Chinese Embassy in Belgium