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After almost 3 years, China is easing its zero-COVID-19 policy—here’s how its impacting the world

Since 2020, China’s borders have been largely closed down.

After almost 3 years, China is easing its zero-COVID-19 policy—here’s how its impacting the world
[Source photo: Getty Images]

Since 2020, China’s boarders have been largely closed down. But on Monday night, China relaxed its travel policy. Inbound travelers will no longer need to quarantine once arriving on the mainland starting on January 8.

This continues the country’s shift away from its “zero-COVID-19” strategy, which has included mass testing, mandatory hospital stays, and regulated quarantines. Now, inbound travelers will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days, but will instead need to provide a negative test from within the last 48 hours. Travel out of China will be “resumed in an orderly manner,” according to the announcement.

In recent weeks, widespread protests boiled up against the country’s yearslong strict lockdown policies. But the recent relaxation is producing mixed reactions.

Here are some of the new policy’s impacts:


As restrictions roll back, recent data suggests that China is facing a COVID-19 outbreak. A surge of COVID-19 patients has overwhelmed hospitals already facing staffing issues, and recent videos show patients lining hallways in gurneys. Government authorities are now paying citizens older than 60 to receive the vaccine.

The true scope of the outbreak in China is not fully known since the country ended its mass testing. And to be sure, other countries are experiencing outbreaks as well.


News that China would be opening its borders boosted stocks in Asia: The Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component rose 0.98% and 1.16%, respectively (markets in some countries remain closed).

“What we are seeing today, with a China rally and bullish prices in commodities futures, is what played out in the summer of 2008 and it looks to us like an end-of-a-cycle moment,” said Florian Ielpo, head of macro at Lombard Odier Investment Managers, according to Reuters.


Air travel ticket sales almost immediately jumped after China announced its eased travel restrictions. Travel company Trip.com Group reported that ticket sales to China quadrupled overnight, according to the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, bookings for trips out of China tripled. Destinations like Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan have been among the most popular flights booked.

Still, the current outbreaks in China are leading some countries to implement strict rules for travelers from China. Japan, for instance, will require a negative COVID-19 test upon their arrival.

With Lunar New Year approaching, travel in and out of China is expected to rise, quickly putting the country’s new COVID-19 strategy to the test.

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