Travelers to China welcomed the removal of entry quarantine requirements starting Sunday, the first day when China downgraded management of the COVID with measures designed for combating Class B infectious diseases instead of Class A infectious diseases.
After waiting for over two hours in the international arrival area at terminal 2 of the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, South African Willem Frederick Burger finally met his girlfriend who traveled to South Korea a month ago. Unlike the previous day, they could go home together immediately without completing quarantine time.
Burger is extremely excited about the new policy for cross-border travelers that became effective on Sunday, and he has got a big plan.
"I have been away from my own country (South Africa) for four years, and I am very much looking forward to visiting my family in June."
China downgraded management of the COVID-19 from Class A to Class B in accordance with the nation's law on prevention and treatment of infectious disease starting January 8 (Sunday).
Accordingly, travelers from outbound destinations are no longer required to receive quarantine or have a nucleic acid test upon arrivals.
"The whole arriving process is extremely smooth, almost the same as before. I have prepared quite a few items for the quarantine, and luckily none of them are needed any longer," said Guo Xueting, a 22-year-old who just graduated from a university in Seoul in December.
According to Guo, she booked the air ticket in August, and coincidentally got the flight on Sunday, the very first day that China lifted international flight restrictions.
"I am so happy that all four members of our family can spend Chinese New Year together this time, as the last time we did so was three years ago," Guo added.
A young lady who called herself Melody is also among the crowd waiting for their beloved ones, and she is waiting for her boyfriend.
Melody's boyfriend, surnamed Huang, has not been back to China for more than six years, and it took him quite a long time to save up for this long vacation.
Huang first flew from San Francisco to Seoul, where he took the transit flight to return.
"The good news is that we suddenly got an extra two weeks more time, thanks to the change of international traveling measures," she said.
According to Melody, last year she went to the US to meet her boyfriend, but it took her eight months to get back to China as the flights she booked constantly got canceled.
As China enters its new phase of COVID-19 response, the Civil Aviation Administration of China also removed certain COVID-19 restrictions on international passenger flights starting January 8.
The relaxation includes no longer identifying high-risk inbound flights, and scrapping the cap of 75 percent passenger load factor for inbound flights.
In response, the Shanghai Airport Authority immediately launched coordination work with Shanghai Customs and the Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection to restore the inbound arrival procedure at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
The Shanghai Pudong International Airport dismantled the facilities placed for closed loop transportation on Sunday and restored previous procedures for inbound passengers, according to the Shanghai Airport Authority.
Businesses for shopping, dining and drinking along the international arrival area were restored, and the airport authority also set up several booths for festival souvenir purchase in the area.
The relaxed cross-border traveling requirements come a day after the Spring Festival travel rush, which started Saturday (January 7) this year.
The Shanghai Airport Authority is expected to handle 66,240 flights and 6.5 million passenger trips during the 40-day travel rush through February 15.
Similar changes are taking place at the Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection, according to local news outlet Xinmin Evening News.
"I have worked on the ship for more than half a year, I am so glad that I can go directly home for Chinese New Year without quarantine," shared Cui Wei, a sailor who just completed the shift changing procedure at Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection's Waigaoqiao station.
To allow sailors to change shifts around-the-clock, we've made thorough preparations, trying to make the procedure with high efficiency and great convenience, according to Yang Yongxiang, an official for the Waigaoqiao station.
More than 2 million passenger trips went through entry or exit via the Shanghai immigration inspection authority throughout 2022, including some 1.64 million passenger trips via the Pudong International Airport, according to the authority.
He Qi contributed to the story.