China allows foreign tourists including from India after 3 years of Covid control.

China on Tuesday announced that it will allow foreign tourists into the country including from India for the first time in three years and resume issuing various other categories of visas from March 15, the latest step in the country’s opening up after three years of strict border controls amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision to issue all categories of visas comes after China declared a “decisive victory” against Covid-19 and downgraded outbreak control protocols earlier this year.

“The Chinese Embassy and Consulates General in India will resume issuing various types of Chinese visas,” a notice published on the website of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi said on Tuesday evening.

Allowing tourists back in the mainland means China has fully ended the much-criticised “zero-Covid” policy under which not only did Beijing keep its borders shuttered, but it also implemented frequent lockdowns and ran a regime of tests and contact tracing.

China took its first major step towards reopening two months ago, in January, when it scrapped quarantine requirements on arrival at international airports. Business visas were also resumed at the time.

Tourist arrivals will take several months to normalise but the increase in the sector will boost the domestic economy, which was badly hit because of the country’s draconian anti-Covid policies and closed borders.

“Foreigners with valid visas issued before March 28, 2020, will be allowed to enter China, as the country is adjusting its visa and entry policies to facilitate travel across the border,” the official news agency, Xinhua reported.

Many Chinese embassies including the Chinese embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday announced they were resuming issuing visas and also restoring validity of all visas issued before March 28, 2020.

According to the note published on the Chinese embassy website, 16 categories of visas will now be issued including for tourists, students and relatives of Indians who are staying in China.

Indian tourists planning to visit China will have to furnish return ticket details, itinerary and proof of employment, according to the notice.

Tourism from India to China, however, is unlikely to take off until direct passenger flights are resumed between the two countries, which remain suspended from March, 2020.

“Visa authorities stationed abroad will resume the issuance of all types of visas for foreigners to China,” Xinhua reported.

China had shut its borders to most travellers from abroad from March 28, 2020, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

China had said the suspension was “temporary” but it ended up lasting for three years.

“The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries,” the Chinese foreign ministry had then said.

Separately on March 13, the Chinese education ministry and the national health commission (NHC) issued a notice withdrawing mandatory mask mandate in schools, colleges and universities.

“Teachers and students are not required to wear masks and can choose whether to wear masks according to their personal health conditions and wishes,” the notice said.

The vaccination status of students, teachers and especially of the elderly faculty and staff should be thoroughly checked, the notice added.

source- Hindustan Times.

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