Effective at midnight China Standard Time on Saturday, March 28, 2020, China is temporarily suspending the entry of foreign nationals who hold a valid ordinary visa or residence permit. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the ban extends to all foreign nationals except holders of diplomatic, service, courtesy, and ordinary C (crew members of international transportation, including aircraft, trains, ships, and trucks) visas. Entry with all other ordinary visas, including residence permits (category D), transit (category G), tourism (category L), and commerce and trade (category M) are suspended. The travel restrictions also extend to region-specific entry policies such as holders of APEC Business Travel Cards, Hainan 30-day visa-free waiver, Shanghai 15-day visa-free policy for cruise tour groups, Guangdong foreign tours through Hong Kong or Macao SAR, and Guangxi visa-free tours from ASEAN countries. Foreign nationals may enter China with an ordinary visa issued at a Chinese embassy after March 26 for “necessary” economic, trade, scientific, or technological activities, or emergency humanitarian needs.
The entry restrictions are part of a broader Chinese policy to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) into China from foreign countries. Simultaneously with the entry restrictions, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is restricting the number of international flights in and out of the country. Effective March 29, the CAAC is limiting all Chinese airlines to just one weekly flight on a single route to any one foreign country. The same directive permits foreign airlines to operate one weekly flight on a single route into China. Planes may not exceed 75% capacity. These restrictions will likely limit the ability of Chinese citizens currently abroad to return to China.
Local governments are also imposing restrictions on all international travelers. Effective immediately, all international travelers into Shanghai will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Hong Kong and Macau have already banned entry by foreigners and implemented a mandatory quarantine for those arriving from other parts of China, as has Taiwan.
The Chinese government has not announced how long the entry restrictions will remain in place, but has indicated that “[t]he suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries.”
Please contact Frank Samolis, Rory Murphy, Stacy Swanson and Ludmilla Kasulke with any questions. For additional COVID-19 related legal advice, resources by regions and sectors, and practical support, please visit our Coronavirus COVID-19 resource hub.