What are Europe's COVID-19 travel restrictions on travelers from China?
Peter Oliver in Berlin
The UK now requires a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test for passengers from China. /Reuters
The UK now requires a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test for passengers from China. /Reuters

The UK now requires a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test for passengers from China. /Reuters

The European Union's Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) meeting ran late into the night on Wednesday, as diplomats struggled to agree on a unified approach to new COVID-19 measures for travelers arriving from China.

An agreement was eventually reached, but what does it entail?

All that was agreed upon is optional, so it will fall to individual EU countries to decide how to implement the measures. Nations are "strongly encouraged" to require a negative pre-departure test 48 hours before leaving China, and to ask travelers to wear medical masks on flights to and from China. Paris has urged all EU members to adopt the measures.


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In a statement released by the Swedish presidency of the the Council of the EU, bloc nations are encouraged to carry out "random testing" on passengers coming from China, as well as monitor aircraft wastewater to try to keep track of any new COVID-19 variants.

The measures that passengers arriving from China will face will depend on which country they are flying to. Some European nations, like Switzerland, have not implemented new measures. Here is a breakdown of European countries that have made announcements so far – and what passengers arriving from China need to know before the travel.



Belgium will test wastewater from planes arriving from China for new COVID-19 variants as part of new steps against the spread of the coronavirus, the government announced on Monday.



France will require travelers who arrive from a Chinese airport to provide a negative COVID-19 test result less than 48 hours before departure. It will also carry out random PCR tests upon arrival on travelers coming from China.



Berlin is changing its entry rules for travelers from China and will in future require at least a rapid coronavirus test to enter the country, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Thursday.



Greece's National Public Health Organization (EODY) has confirmed that the country has no intention of re-imposing restrictions for travelers from China, but said it would fully cooperate with any future collective action that the EU may subsequently introduce.



Travelers don't need a negative COVID-19 test result before arriving in Hungary. 



Italy has ordered COVID-19 antigen swabs and virus sequencing for all travelers from China. Milan's main airport, Malpensa, has already started testing passengers arriving from Beijing and Shanghai.



Spain will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test or a full course of vaccination upon arrival.



Sweden will require travelers from China to show they have tested negative for COVID-19 before they can enter the country, the government said.



The UK will require a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test for passengers from China as of January 5, the Department of Health said last week. However, a report in The Independent newspaper on January 2 said passengers from China who arrived next week would not face compulsory COVID-19 tests on arrival.



What has been China's response?

Beijing has criticized the imposition of testing requirements on passengers from China. At a foreign ministry briefing, spokesperson Mao Ning said: "We believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable.”

The ministry added China was firmly opposed to countries who manipulate travel measures for political motives and  said it will "take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity."

Source(s): Reuters

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