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East Asia
Country
Sector: 
HE, FE, Sch, ELT

China COVID-19 policy updates – What’s new?

8 December, 2022
Mandy Deng

China has started to rapidly shift away from its “dynamic zero-Covid” policy. Just a few weeks ago, there were large scale lockdowns in major cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing. But now China is moving towards living with Covid, including lifting lockdowns, allowing offices, restaurants and bars to re-open, and cancelling requirements for regular mass Covid tests.

On 7 Dec 2022, China’s State Council published “10 measures” on Covid control, less than a month after the publication of the previous “20 measures” in November.

Key measures include:

  • More precise definitions of “high-risk” areas, which will be limited to specific apartments, buildings or floors rather than whole districts or residential communities. Even in the remaining high-risk areas, lockdown restrictions should be lifted after 5 days of no new cases.
  • Removal of most Covid testing requirements. Health codes will no longer required for domestic travel or for most businesses or public places, although they are still required for high-risk areas and certain venues such as schools or nursing homes.
  • Allowing infected people with asymptomatic or mild cases, as well as close contacts, to isolate at home, while still allowing people to voluntarily choose centralized isolation for treatment
  • Improving the healthcare situation by not restricting pharmacies or sales of over-the-counter medications, by promoting vaccination for the elderly, and by giving play to grassroots medical and health institutions
  • Stating that schools that are not experiencing an epidemic situation should carry out offline teaching activities

Source: official website of National Health Commission
关于进一步优化落实新冠肺炎疫情防控措施的通知 (nhc.gov.cn)

Analysis:

These measures give formal confirmation that China is no longer committed to its “dynamic zero” policy, although similar measures have already been in practice to some extent for a number of days via city-level regulations.

Despite the domestic loosening there has not yet been any official mention of relaxing the quarantine requirements for international arrivals. We believe China will let the policy settle for a short while before implementing new rules for international travellers. However, we’ve already seen that government led business delegations are planning international travel, aiming to create new business deals and try to win back the business lost in the past 3 years. 

While many people are happy with the new direction, this is not universal and the speed of the changes is causing anxiety and concerns. More turbulence is possible in the next few months as more people become infected by the virus. Nevertheless, the situation is likely to return to normal before too long.