BRUSSELS – The European Union has proposed requiring Chinese visitors to the region to show proof of a negative Covid test. The EU’s Integrated Political Crisis Response group (IPCR), comprised of officials from the EU’s 27 governments, said on Wednesday that passengers should have a negative Covid test report before boarding the plane to Europe. Since China is relaxing restrictions on one end while facing tough measures from around the world, the recommendations appear to be continuation of what was suggested by the European Commission and could mean that China-EU ties are meant to deteriorate.
There have been an increasing number of confirmed cases of Covid, prompting the International Advisory Committee on Travel Recommendations to recommend that all passengers flying to or from China wear face masks. The group also recommended that EU governments implement random testing of passengers arriving from China and that airports with international flights and planes arriving from China conduct testing and sequencing of wastewater.
According to a statement released by the IPCR, “The Member States agree to assess the situation and review the introduced measures by mid-January 2023.” Though the region consists of 27 countries, health policy is the responsibility of individual states. Countries are free to deviate from the recommendations, which have no legal force. Multiple EU countries had already increased their protection measures in anticipation of new cases coming from China, so this is an additional precaution.
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For instance, prior to the recommendations, Italy had already begun testing passengers for Covid. Starting on December 28th, the country enacted its new regulations. Interestingly, more than a third of all passengers on one of the first flights tested positive for the virus. Positive results from half the passengers on another flight proved that the precautions had to be taken.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia have all announced strict measures for Chinese tourists. However, Beijing has voiced opposition to the current restrictions. The government has warned that it will respond with retaliation. Despite the recent uptick in cases, the country is still planning to reopen on January 8.