For many foreign workers in China, and for those who are looking to return either for employment, business travel or family reunion, the travel restrictions on entry to China currently show no signs of ending.
Since the 28th March 2020, China has placed strict control on traveller’s both foreign and local to entering China, with mandatory quarantine of up to 3 or 4 weeks currently in place for anyone who wishes to enter China.
For the past 18 months, foreigners living and working in China have regularly speculated about when these restrictions would be eased or lifted entirely. Many have remained in China since before the start of Covid-19, which meant missed important family events such as Christmas and other festivals last year. As we enter the 4th quarter of 2021, it is obvious to all in China, that a normal trip back home to visit friends and family before the end of the year is impossible without the need to quarantine for at least 3 weeks upon return to China.
China has implemented a very stringent set of measures and restrictions whenever even a single case of Covid-19 is detected anywhere within its borders. This can include mass testing of the local population, mandatory lockdowns and quarantines and restrictions of travel to and from the affected areas.
China’s “Zero-Covid” strategy is in stark contrast to how many countries are handling the virus, and has allowed for a relatively normal way of life for most people in China since early 2020. The challenge remains as to how China can balance this strategy at the same time as not damaging the economy by closing off to the rest of the world.
It is this balancing act which is leading some foreigners to consider their own personal strategies – to remain in China without leaving for potentially another couple of years, or taking the risk and going home, knowing that they may not be able to return.