China, where Coronavirus originated, has relaxed restrictions on travel and resumed issuing passports to mainland citizens and long-stay visas for foreign tourists.

While there is still some distrust over the realistic scale of China’s coronavirus problem, officials have downgraded Covid-19 to a less severe category. In China, coronavirus is a Class B infectious disease. It seems unlikely that China has gotten a grip on its believed escalating death toll.

The decision to eliminate nucleic acid tests and quarantine for incoming travellers came one day after the National Health Commission (NHC) made an announcement on the 27 December, instead focusing on how immigration operations could restore for mainland residents and foreigners.

The announcement referred to managing COVID prevention while reviving China’s economic and social position on a world stage by enabling open travel again.

The statement set out the intent “to efficiently coordinate pandemic prevention and control with economic and social development, to actively adapt to the new situation and requirements in the new phase of COVID-19 prevention and control […] and to protect and promote personnel exchange and communication between China and the rest of the world”.

Typical visa services for foreigners will resume to issue or renew stay or residence permits, port visas and exit-&-entry permits for the People’s Republic of China and border regions.

After closing off free travel to China, the publication of immigration measures signals a plan back to normality. Ports by sea and land and crucial channels will also be reopened to allow free entry-exit clearance.