US Relaxes COVID-19 Testing Restrictions for China

The Biden administration is preparing to ease COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers arriving from China, according to two anonymous sources familiar with the matter. The decision comes as the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in China are declining, and the United States has improved its understanding of the surge. The current restrictions were implemented on December 28, 2021, and went into effect on January 5, 2022, in response to a surge of infections in China.

Under the current regulations, anyone traveling to the United States from China, Hong Kong, and Macau must take a COVID-19 test no more than two days before departure and provide proof of a negative test result prior to boarding their flight. This requirement applies to all individuals aged two years and older, including US citizens. Travelers who tested positive for the virus more than ten days before their flight can provide documentation demonstrating that they have recovered from COVID-19 instead of presenting a negative test result.

The relaxed testing requirements will be a relief to many travelers who have been burdened by the current regulations. However, it remains to be seen how the new rules will be implemented and enforced.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this year expanded genomic surveillance at several US airports, collecting voluntary samples from passengers aboard hundreds of weekly flights from China, as well as testing wastewater aboard airplanes. The Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance Program will continue to monitor travelers from China and over thirty other countries.

The Biden administration’s decision to lift testing requirements for travelers from China comes at a time when US-China relations are strained. Last month, President Biden ordered a Chinese spy balloon to be shot down after it crossed the continental United States. Additionally, the Biden administration has publicized US intelligence findings that suggest Beijing is considering providing Russia with weapons for its ongoing war in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned that Beijing and Washington were headed for “conflict and confrontation” if the United States does not change its course. These comments followed an unusually pointed speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who stated that “Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China.”

Despite the escalating rhetoric, White House officials have downplayed the tension between the two nations, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stating that “there is no change to the United States’ posture when it comes to this bilateral relationship.” He added that President Biden recognizes the tension between the US and China but believes that it can be worked through.

It is uncertain how the lifting of testing requirements will impact travel between the United States and China. However, many travelers are likely to welcome the change, as the testing requirements have caused significant inconvenience and expense. Additionally, the move may serve as a sign of the Biden administration’s willingness to improve relations with China, which have been strained in recent years due to concerns over trade, human rights, and other issues.

The United States has been one of the countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 49 million confirmed cases and more than 800,000 deaths. While the number of cases has declined in recent months, the pandemic continues to pose a significant threat to public health, and officials continue to urge caution and vigilance in the face of the virus.

The Biden administration has implemented a range of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, including vaccine mandates for federal workers and contractors, as well as the implementation of vaccine requirements for air travelers. While these measures have been controversial, they are viewed by many as necessary steps to protect public health and prevent the further spread of the virus.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, officials around the world will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust their policies accordingly. The decision to lift COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers from China.