mandag 16. januar 2023

China Covid: New year optimism sees hopes of moving beyond virus

When you arrive in China now the officials in head-to-toe protective clothing are gone. There are no buses with special plastic dividers waiting to take you to centralised quarantine. The main reminder that Covid is still around is that people are wearing masks.

It feels weird. You still need a PCR test before flying and arriving passengers fill in a health declaration form, accessible via phone apps. This then generates a temporary QR code. You scan the code when you come through the airport and then, after clearing immigration, simply walk out and into China. As a journalist, I had to wait for an hour for special clearance to enter. During that time I and another waiting reporter had a long chat with one of the immigration police. It was the first day they didn't have to wear the "da bai" (big white) protective gear over their uniforms or face shields or shoe covers. Was it a relief? "Yeah, it actually wasn't that bad," he said.

Chinese New Year is fast approaching but this officer said he would not be heading back to his hometown to ring in the Year of the Rabbit. There would be too much work for the immigration police over the coming weeks making sure that the new travel systems were in place and operating, he said.