From April 29, travellers entering China will no longer need to show proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Proof of a negative antigen (also known as lateral flow) test completed no more than 48 hours prior to arrival will now suffice. In addition, airlines will no longer check passengers have a test certificate prior to boarding.
Mao Ning, the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the announcement via a press conference on April 25. She added that China will continue to “optimize its prevention and control policies according to the situation of the epidemic”, referencing the likely eventual removal of all testing requirements for international travellers.
Data from Alibaba-owned Chinese travel app Fliggy showed that within an hour of the policy announcement, searches for cross-border flights quadrupled. Flights from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, and Osaka to China were among the most popular inbound flight searches.
The policy will come as a relief to many Chinese nationals who have been planning to travel home but are dreading the administrative challenge of PCR tests. PCR tests usually take at least 24 hours to yield a result and, in many countries, come with prohibitive prices. Antigen tests by contrast produce a result in half an hour and are less expensive.
The hashtag accompanying the news on China’s twitter equivalent Weibo has currently reached over 50 million views, within just three hours following the announcement. Commenters expressed their excitement at the news, with some even exclaiming “thank you, my homeland!”. Many of those impacted by the policy are anticipating their return to China – or that of a loved one – after three years.