The announced end of the corona quarantine requirement for returnees from abroad has led to a rush to book flights in China. Online searches for overseas flights soared, Chinese state media reported on Tuesday.
Chinese travel platform Tongcheng saw an 850 percent increase in searches for air travel and ten times as many searches for visa requirements, state media further reported. At competitor Trip.com, search queries increased tenfold compared to the previous year within half an hour of the announcement. Accordingly, trips to Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and South Korea met with particular interest.
The announced end of the quarantine obligation could also lead to more air traffic to and from Europe. According to a spokeswoman on Tuesday, the Lufthansa Group is examining how the flight schedule to mainland China can be adjusted.
The government in Beijing announced on Monday evening that the quarantine obligation for returnees from abroad would end on January 8th. Travelers then only have to present a negative corona test that is no more than 48 hours old.
Visas for overseas tourists and students remain largely suspended at this time, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin announced that Beijing will "continue to adjust its visa policy scientifically and dynamically in accordance with the epidemic situation."
The announced travel simplifications met with enthusiasm in China. "It's over. Spring is coming,” wrote a user of the online service Weibo, who received numerous positive reactions. "Preparing for my trip abroad!" wrote another. Equity markets in Asia and Europe also reacted positively.
In early December, Beijing backed away from its strict zero-Covid policy in a radical about-face. Since then, the corona virus has been spreading rapidly in China, and the country is experiencing the highest increase in infections in the world. According to estimates, around one million people could die in China in the coming months as a result of a corona infection. On Sunday, China stopped publishing daily corona data.
In view of the emerging travel rush, a test will apply to all travelers from China from Friday onwards. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said anyone who comes from the People's Republic or has stayed there within the past seven days must be tested upon arrival in Japan. Those who test positive must isolate themselves in a designated facility for seven days. Tokyo will also limit the number of flights from China.
In Germany, the Greens health expert in the Bundestag, Janosch Dahmen, advised calm. Thanks to the vaccinations, Germany is "much better prepared for the winter today than it was in the past two years," Dahmen told the Rheinische Post. "That also helps us with a view to the situation in China."
In view of the number of infections in China, the foreign policy spokesman for the Union faction, Jürgen Hardt (CDU), had called for all flight connections between Germany and the People's Republic to be stopped. The Federal Ministry of Transport rejected the initiative.
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