Travelers must have a 48-hour negative nucleic acid test report to take planes and trains as well as inter-provincial coaches and ships during the upcoming holidays, an official with the National Health Commission said on Thursday.
Also, regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is “necessary” for all regions, even those without infections at present.
The stricter regulation, to take effect between Saturday and the end of October, aims to cope with the rising infection risks nationwide during the holidays for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Saturday, and the National Day on October 1.
The nation’s COVID-19 prevention and control protocol currently requires a 72-hour negative PCR report to take public transport.
“The increasing movement during the holidays will enhance the transmission risks, because the global pandemic is still rampant, while sporadic domestic cases are popping up frequently,” said Wu Liangyou, deputy head of the NHC’s disease control and prevention division.
People are advised to reduce cross-provincial travel and spend the holidays locally, he urged.
An “Arrival Test” will be widely promoted for travelers during the holidays. Travelers can receive a free PCR test voluntarily upon arrival and will be allowed to move freely after the test, according to the official.
“It will become an important measure to prevent the transmission of infection from other provinces,” Wu told the COVID-19 prevention and control press briefing of the State Council, the nation’s Cabinet, in Beijing.
Sufficient sample collection sites and staff will be arranged at airports, railway stations, long-distance bus stations, highway toll stations, ports and tourist service centers. Travelers can check the result of the test through their health code, he noted.
Hotels, tourism spots and other crowded places must check the health code and require a 72-hour negative PCR report for every visitor. Construction workers returning from other provinces must have a 48-hour test report during the holidays.
Large-scale gathering activities, such as trainings, exhibitions and art performances will be banned, unless they are absolute necessary. A 48-hour PCR report is mandatory for those attending these events.
It is suggested people have simple wedding and funeral ceremonies while reducing the number of guests.
Wu said the new regulations will be adjusted after the holiday period according to the pandemic situation.
Regular PCR testing remain necessary to the regions without infections at present, according to the nation’s ninth COVID-19 prevention protocol, said Li Dachuan, another official of the national commission.
The pandemic prevention and control measures in southern Hainan Province and northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have shown notable effects with infection numbers trending downwards. The resurgence in both places is close to the end, he told the press briefing.
The COVID-19 situation in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region is being stabilized, despite the high number of daily infections, Wu added.
The infection numbers in southwestern Sichuan Province are fluctuating and trending downwards, but community infection risks remain high.
The 6.8-magnitude earthquake that jolted the province’s Luding County last Monday has made the pandemic control and prevention situation more challenging.
Wu insisted that the COVID-19 situation remains tough with risks of cluster infections across the country, because of the more frequent movements and a large flock of returning travelers and students at the end of the summer vacation.