EU States Agree to ‘Phase Out’ Covid Travel Measures for China
EU member states agreed recently to “phase out” the requirement for a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test for travelers from China by the end of the month.
The EU’s Health Security Committee made up of member state health experts and chaired by the European Commission decision was made within the framework of the Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) arrangements, in the presence of EU member states and Schengen countries.
It is reminded that EU member states agreed by an “overwhelming majority” in January to introduce pre-departure Covid-19 testing on all arrivals from China as well as other measures, as the country prepared to re-open to cross-border travel on January 8.
The IPCR last week said it had reviewed the situation with regard to Covid-19 related measures on travelers from China and called for a coordinated precautionary approach that will include monitoring developments.
According to a statement by the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council, in light of the recent epidemiological developments and taking into account the opinion of the Health Security Committee, member states agree:
– to phase out the requirement for a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from China to member states by the end of February.
– to phase out random testing of travellers arriving from China to member states by the middle of March.
Sweden, which currently holds the EU Council presidency, announced that it would be lifting all entry requirements for inbound travelers from China this month.
WTTC: An important step for EU economies
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) applauded the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council’s announcement to facilitate easing restrictions for travellers from China to the EU after a “prolonged period of post-pandemic disruption”.
According to the WTTC, the easing of restrictions will be a major boost to businesses across the Travel & Tourism sector in the region, as well as for families and friends reconnecting and society generally returning to post-COVID normality.
“This is an important step forward for EU economies… In 2019, before the pandemic, nearly 10 million Chinese tourists visited the EU with inbound revenue worth US $12.2 billion, creating jobs and boosting regional economies,” the WTTC said.
“The return of Chinese travellers to the EU is very welcome.”
Greece welcomed its first direct flight from Shanghai in December operated weekly by Air China, which has plans to increase flight frequency in the coming months. Air China also recently reinstated its Beijing-Athens route.
According to a study by Mabrian Technologies, Athens was among the first cities to have most reactivated its connection with China for 2023.
China was one of the fastest growing source markets for Greece before the outbreak of Covid-19 increasing by 166 percent in the 2014-2019 period. At the same time, Chinese investors were the top property buyers in Greece under the country’s golden visa program.