It’s the first time in three years that Li Mingyu,
a Chinese student studying in New Zealand, got to hug her father, who came all the way from Xuzhou of Jiangsu Province to pick his daughter up at Shanghai Pudong International Airport
First Flight in Shanghai
The flight Li took, NZ289, a Boeing 787-9 that landed at Pudong at 6:31am, became the first international flight to Shanghai after China’s further relaxed COVID-19 measures for inbound travelers came into effect on Sunday.” I had wanted to buy a flower bouquet but it’s too early, so I wrote a welcome sign on a piece of red paper to greet her,” said Li’s father.
Greeted by airport staff in normal uniforms, passengers from Auckland got off their plane at Shanghai’s quickly passed immigration checkpoints. .
Welcomed by long-missed family members or friends who came to pick them up, they left the airport terminal buildings directly.
For the first time since April 2020, passengers from abroad no longer will encounter quarantine staff in hazmat suits holding throat swabs on landing, or be transported to designated quarantine hotels. Working in New Zealand, Zhang Meng from north China’s Hebei Province said that she hadn’t been back to China for three years. On hearing that no central quarantine is needed for on-arrival passengers, she booked a flight home immediately.
Elsewhere, Melissa Hurst from New Zealand felt lucky as she and her family planned their trip to China long before the optimized measures were announced – in March.
They had been prepared for quarantines but breezed through with nearly all the restrictions dropped. Also they only waited for about two weeks for their visa, which was faster than they expected.
“It’s the first time we have returned to China after the pandemic broke out,” Hurst said. “We had to do the COVID test and waited one day (for the result) and nothing else.”
As China downgraded the COVID-19 management from Class A to Class B, the limitations for international travel were abolished from Sunday, bringing a dawn of hope for complete global economic recovery after the pandemic.
Inbound travelers are now only required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 48 hours before departure and can travel to China only if the results are negative. They can move freely if their health declaration and customs inspections have no abnormalities.
The measures aim to further optimize the international exchanges that had been impeded for nearly three years to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Nationwide, China Southern Airlines’ Flight CZ312 from Toronto to Guangzhou became the first international flights to the Chinese mainland after the adjustment of China’s COVID-19 response. The flight landed at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport at 12:16am.
It was followed by Shenzhen Airlines’ Flight ZH9024 from Singapore which landed at the Shenzhen Baoan International Airport at 12:23am.
Shanghai’s Pudong airport, which handles over half of the arrival international flights to the mainland, dismantled barriers overnight. They had been used to ensure the “close-loop” transport of inbound travelers to the centralized quarantine sites for the last three years.
The “close-loop” management means they would have no contact with others until their central and home quarantines were finished.
The customs, immigration and airport staff have also taken off their white hazmat suits and facial screen for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic.