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China: Government Requires All Passengers to Present Negative COVID-19 Test to Board Flights to China

(July 24, 2020) On July 20, 2020, three Chinese authorities—the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the General Administration of Customs, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—jointly issued an announcement requiring both foreign citizens and returning Chinese citizens to present negative COVID-19 test results before boarding flights to China. The required nucleic acid tests must be conducted within five days of embarkation at facilities designated or recognized by Chinese embassies in host countries.

Foreign citizens must also complete a health declaration at Chinese embassies or consulates by presenting the negative test results, while Chinese citizens may upload the test results through the Wechat health code app. During the current pandemic, returning Chinese citizens have been required by another CAAC announcement issued on April 7, 2020, to obtain a green health code by reporting data through the app every 24 hours for at least 14 consecutive days immediately prior to boarding flights to China.

The July 20 announcement urges airlines to strictly examine passengers’ health declarations and health codes and refuse boarding to those who fail to satisfy any travel requirements. According to a CAAC announcement issued on June 4, 2020, the following penalties will be imposed on airlines that carry passengers with COVID-19:

  • If five to nine passengers on one flight test positive, the CAAC will bar the airline from services to China for a week.
  • If 10 or more passengers on one flight test positive, the airline’s services to China will be suspended for four weeks.

The new CAAC announcement also emphasizes that passengers providing false test results or information will face legal consequences. Chinese embassies are expected to formulate detailed implementation rules after “carefully assessing the testing capacity of host countries,” the announcement says.

As of July 21, 2020, the Chinese embassy in the U.S. had not issued its implementation rules, but warned passengers to be alert for upcoming notices.