U.S. Imposing Covid Test Requirements For Travelers Coming From China, Hong Kong

Now that China is re-opening to travel starting January 8, the U.S. is is imposing testing requirements on arrivals from China, Hong Kong and Macau – effective January 5.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will require anyone arriving by air from China to provide a negative Covid test, following a surge of Covid-19 cases across China as Beijing has eased its strict zero-Covid rules.

Under the new rules, which will take effect on Jan. 5, anyone two years and older will need to show a negative result from a test taken within two days of their departure from airports in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, administration officials told reporters in a briefing.

Note that travel and testing requirements have done nothing to protect the U.S. in the first three years of the pandemic. They were didn’t keep out Covid, its surgest, or its variants.

The administration might argue that we don’t have good date on Chinese spread, but that’s equally true – and has been for years – on much of the world. Indeed, there’s little genomic surveillance in the U.S.

We don’t test people going to bars or indoor concerts. People in the U.S. do that with Covid every single day.

What, exactly, are we actually doing to combat Covid, recognizing that people arriving from China represent a very small number of infections and will continue that way even as transpacific travel grows? Are we updating vaccines against a new Chinese variant, expediting their approval, and mobilizing their distribution? Are we distributing high quality N95 masks, teaching people to use them, and requiring their use in all indoor congregant settings?

The U.S. still requires non-residents to show proof of vaccination to enter. To be sure, while vaccines are no longer preventing infection or spread to the same degree as when they were introduced, prior to current variants, there are still more than just personal benefits (of reducing likelihood of severe infection). A vaccinated immune system is likely to respond more quickly to the virus, shortening the duration of infection and thus infectiousness. And a fully boosted individual will be less likely to get and spread the virus, though the effect isn’t as significant as it once was.

However there is no requirement to be boosted, just vaccinated so U.S. policy doesn’t have this argument and simply exists as a result of inertia. Oh, and by the way, Chinese vaccines which are not effective in stopping current variants (and were barely effective against the ancestral Wuhan strain) count as vaccination.

It’s as though we’ve learned nothing in three years, and that’s sad.

This post has been updated as actual details of the policy have been announced.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Nonsense. Only two types of people now. Those that have gotten it and those that will. Time to end ALL restrictions.

  2. What happens if a US citizen returning home refuses to take the test?
    Legally, they can’t be denied entry to their own country.

    These restrictions are xenophobic and ineffective. The genie is out of the bottle.

  3. Let’s discuss real racism, shall we, Chad. Foreign Policy Magazine says that China’s suppression of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other chiefly Muslim ethnic minorities in northwest China now meets the United Nations definition of genocide, mass sterilization, forced abortions and mandatory birth control part of a campaign that has swept up more than 1.5 million people and what researcher Adrian Zenz calls probably the largest incarceration of an ethnoreligious minority since the Holocaust.

  4. Sorry Jerry, but your definitions are not correct. Few if any governments have been genuinely Communist as that doesn’t work on all but the very smallest scale (tribal groups sharing limited resources and the like). Yes, a few countries have used the label, but even the Soviet Union allowed some free market enterprise just to keep consumer goods flowing. And Putin is an ultra-nationalist trying to reestablish the Czarist empire, and has nothing to do with modern Communism; he’s even said that Lenin was disastrous for Russia. China uses the label but is more a gang state far from Mao’s unworkable vision. They are tyrannies, and sadly Putin is definitely a model for other wannabe strongmen, including here.

    I doubt if the “far left”, whatever that disparate group is, “loves” the ideal of Communism, though America is definitely socialistic (a very different thing) in some ways: tax money for free public education, libraries, police and fire services, etc. Extending that to health services and higher ed are logical steps opposed by those who profit by ripping off the public. I really don’t know what “woke” is, but I’d rather be awake than asleep and following a would-be tyrant. As for the Democratic Party it is, like the Republicans, beholden to big corporations post-Citizens United. There’s a bit more flexibility here but the two parties support one another and put down any attempts to bring up truly different ideas on how to deal with the problems in this country. Dig a little deeper and please separate political from economic groups, they are not the same.

  5. @Jerry – “corporate/democrat/political/academic” – pretty soon you’re not gonna have any umbrella groups left to vilify. It’s gonna be “us,” however you classify someone that isn’t your enemy, presumably, and literally everyone else, heh.

  6. @Gene

    Given that he cried about the “far-right” Boogeyman I doubt he watches fox. Need probably another drone like yourself spouting “threat to our democracy” talking points.

    China and Russia are the good guys.

  7. @K.C. Cooper, this rule was already in place up until a year or so ago. U.S. citizens were still required to test prior to boarding and you could not fly back until you produced a negative test.

  8. Early 2020: travel bans where racist
    Joe biden “We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering.” he said this the day after orange man bad started his travel ban

  9. The only valid reason I can really see behind it – and it does make sense, actually – is that the two Chinese-developed vaccines were never shown to be effective*, even in 2021. So the administration is probably stuck trying to do “something” short of refusing to admit folks with those vaccines (since that would be a diplomatic mess; it would also raise questions about Sputnik**) and is doing this as an alternative.

    *Alright, they were able to show bare-bones efficacy, but there were a lot of suggestions that the data was fudged to get them across the line for that two years back.
    **Since if the Chinese were accused of fudging the numbers, there was a serious suggestion that Russia outright faked their data.

  10. ” A vaccinated immune system is likely to respond more quickly to the virus, shortening the duration of infection and thus infectiousness. And a fully boosted individual will be less likely to get and spread the virus, though the effect isn’t as significant as it once was.”

    It’s fascinating that Gary is still promulgating these falsehoods. The experimental gene therapies are an abject failure and in fact, is causing problems for those individuals who “chose” to be injected. Everything about this ongoing scam is falling apart and it appears that Gary has either not got the message or is too ignorant to understand it.

  11. If you think of the US government as a bunch of evil vandals looking for excuses to torture people for no good reason, you wouldn’t be too far wrong. How absurd!

  12. It really is sad. And you start hearing schools talk about mask mandates again. Absolutely pathetic.

  13. James N – au contraire- it’s fascinating that trolls still post things claiming that the Covid vaccines provide no benefit. Similar to people who claim the earth is flat, and that evolution is false, you’d think you’d give up by now, given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

  14. @K.C. Cooper

    What happens if a US citizen returning home refuses to take the test? Legally, they can’t be denied entry to their own country.

    You can, of course, refuse to take a test, but then the airline won’t let you board the plane in China. Legally, you haven’t been “denied entry” because you never got on the plane.

  15. A necessary step. The rest of the world used vaccination to get past the crisis but China for reasons of CCP control and pride used an ineffective concoction that meant needing to keep the Covid Zero policy. Finally finding that untenable the CCP unleashes a billion unvaccinated people on the world. At some point we need to stop enabling their tyranny.

  16. U.S. weighs new COVID rules for travelers from China
    The U.S. government may impose new COVID-19 measures on travelers to the United States from China over concerns about the “lack of transparent data” coming from Beijing, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

    The move comes after Japan, India and Malaysia announced stepped up rules on travelers from China in the last 24 hours, citing a rise in infections there.

    Japan has said it would require a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for travelers from the China. Malaysia put in place additional tracking and surveillance measures.

    “There are mounting concerns in the international community on the ongoing COVID-19 surges in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data, being reported from the PRC,” the officials said, using the initials of the People’s Republic of China.

    Some hospitals and funeral homes in China have been overwhelmed as the virus spreads largely unchecked across the country of 1.4 billion people.

    Official statistics, however, showed only one COVID death in the seven days to Monday, fuelling doubts among health experts and residents about the government’s data. The numbers are inconsistent with the experience of much less populous countries after they re-opened.

    China said on Monday it would stop requiring inbound travelers to go into quarantine starting from Jan. 8 in a major step towards easing curbs on its borders, which have been largely shut since 2020.

  17. Sorry, George, but much like Gary you’re wrong and haven’t got a leg to stand on. The evidence is clear the jabs are causing significant adverse effects, do almost nothing to stop infection and actually, studies have shown them to have negative efficacy. Basically, the jabbed are catching covid and dying at a higher rate than the unjabbed.

    Also, you should avoid labeling someone with a contrary argument as a “troll”. It implies the validity of their position is based on the frequency of their comments and is a weak-minded attempt to disparage them. Do better!

  18. James N.

    While I don’t have an argument with most of your post, it’s a fool, who “thinks” the jab, has no effect.

    As a retired USAF disabled Veteran, I listen to what I am being told by the Veterans Administration.

    I am 82 come February, and have received 3 jabs as you call them.

    In October, 2022, I contracted Covid. It was mild. And, I am being told by Covid doctors, who know more about Covid, than what you read, that I would probably be dead, without the jabs.

    So, unless you are qualified to speak intelligently on the subject, with educated knowledge, I suggest, you are another bloke, who needs more “education” on subject matter.

  19. You’re being told that without the jab you would be dead? There’s no way anyone could make that statement with any certainty. Sorry, but the evidence is clear, the experimental gene therapies have done little, to nothing, to mitigate the effects of Covid. This scam has been little more that an overbearing psyop for the past three years.

  20. @James N

    I believe there are 1.065 million people who could make that statement with certainty.

  21. @Expat… join the crowd in the corner of the room. Not only is your death figure grossly and obviously inflated, but your conclusion doesn’t follow your premise. Again, there’s no way to prove that any of those people would have been saved by the experimental gene therapies.

    Why is it so difficult for people to admit they fell for a fraud and start working to avoid it happening again in the future? For gosh sakes, people, wake up.

  22. @ George says:

    “James N – au contraire- it’s fascinating that trolls still post things claiming that the Covid vaccines provide no benefit. Similar to people who claim the earth is flat, and that evolution is false, you’d think you’d give up by now, given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

    The flat earth society has a membership drawn from all around the planet…..;)

    We already know (from earlier posts) that James:

    – confuses his nappy with his face mask
    – doesn’t know the difference between a gene and a messenger molecule
    – refuses to read the original scientific / medical literature despite the links being provided for his edification multiple times over on this very blog
    – does read fake news from right wing sources, which misrepresent the original scientific / medical literature and then goes silent when the wanton errors in the aforementioned articles are factually presented
    – has no understanding of the scientific method or statistics
    – has shown no evidence of independent rational thought or critical thinking

    James is the George Santos of covidiocy – no relevant education, a fake belief system, and zero professional expertise, desperately hoping that if he keeps saying the same stuff over and over and over again somebody somewhere will actually be fooled despite the utter lack of evidence.

    “….Why don’t creationists change lightbulbs?
    …They prefer to remain in the dark when it comes to anything scientifically proven to work…”

  23. Congratulations, platy! Again, as usual, you write a dissertation and basically, add nothing to the conversation. The evidence is overwhelming and available to everyone that the jabs, masks, lockdowns and any other mitigation efforts were a failure. You, like most others, are simply unable to admit you fell for a fraud. Hopefully, when it comes around again, you’ll be better prepared to denounce it. I won’t be holding my breath.

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