Travelers hail 'smooth' arrival process
By CUI Jia in Beijing and Wang Ying in Shanghai| (chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2023-01-09Print Print
Optimization: Immigration teams prepared for more passengers
Airline passengers who arrived on the Chinese mainland on Jan 8 said the arrival process was smooth and fast, after the requirements of quarantine and undergoing a nucleic acid test were scrapped.
Many said the optimization of China's COVID-19 policy was not only good news for travelers, but would also benefit businesses worldwide.
On Sunday, management of the disease was downgraded from Class A to Class B, and most travel restrictions for passengers arriving in China were lifted. International travelers still need a negative nucleic acid test 48 hours before departure and have to wear protective masks onboard flights, according to the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism.
China Southern Airlines Flight CZ312, which took off from Toronto, Canada, and landed at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Guangdong province at 00:16 am on Sunday, was the first international flight to arrive on the mainland after the restrictions were relaxed.
At Beijing Capital International Airport, Terminal 3-E and Terminal 2 reopened for international arrivals on Sunday, with passengers only needing to undergo routine customs and immigration checks.
Cathy Pacific Flight CX334 from Hong Kong to Beijing became the first flight that departed from outside the mainland to land at Terminal 3-E after it was reopened.
Business traveler Yao Xin, who was on the flight, couldn't hide his excitement at being able to travel to the mainland for the first time in almost three years without having to undergo quarantine.
"It's great to see services at the airport back to normal and airport staff no longer in white protective suits. It's quite a historic moment," said the Hong Kong resident who works for a bank.
"Without travel restrictions, business owners can plan their trips freely and look for more opportunities. Also, as more international flights will be resumed in the future, China will become one of the top destinations for investors," Yao said.
Richard Matuzevich from Latvia landed in Beijing on Air China Flight CA738 from Warsaw on Sunday. "The whole arrival process was very smooth and fast. Without a doubt, the new travel policy is good for China, the world and the economy," Matuzevich said.
The Latvian, who works for an international tourism company, predicted it will be a good year for the global tourism industry, as Chinese begin to travel again.
China Immigration Inspection teams resumed inspections of all international flights at Terminal 3-E.
Xu Chunjing, the officer in charge on Sunday, said immigration teams have been testing facilities and information systems to ensure passengers can pass through inspection points smoothly.
"As the number of international flights landing at Beijing Capital International Airport starts to gradually increase, China Immigration Inspection teams will undertake more training and preparation to provide better services to inbound passengers," Xu said.
To handle the surge in inbound passenger numbers in the future, 12 inspection points have been added at Terminal 3-E. Other measures to ease travel, including the issuance of port visas, the implementation of the 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy, and the issuance of temporary entry permits resumed on Sunday.
Since March 10, 2020, inbound passengers had to pass through Terminal 3-D at the airport, where they underwent a nucleic acid test and were taken to quarantine facilities. All operations in Terminal 3-D, which usually handles domestic flights, were temporarily suspended on Sunday.
Over the weekend, Shanghai Pudong International Airport dismantled facilities put in place for closed loop transportation. By Sunday routine procedures for inbound passengers had been restored, according to the Shanghai Airport Authority.
At Terminal 2, South African Willem Frederick Burger reunited on Sunday with his girlfriend, who was returning from Seoul, South Korea, after waiting for over two hours in the international arrivals area.
He said he was extremely excited about the policy changes for inbound travelers and has planned a trip back to South Africa. "I have been away from my own country for four years, and I am looking forward to visiting my family in June," Burger said.
Chinese student Guo Xueting, Burger's girlfriend, said the arrival process had gone smoothly, and getting through the airport was similar to pre-COVID travel.
Guo, 22, who graduated from a university in Seoul in December, said she was prepared to spend time in quarantine, but luckily it was not required. "I am so happy that all four members of our family can spend the Chinese New Year together this time. The last time we did so was three years ago," she said.