European Union (EU) countries are gradually removing travel restrictions on travellers from China. This move comes as health experts from the 27 EU members met on Thursday and decided to end the requirement for negative pre-departure COVID tests by the end of February. By the middle of March, they will also stop random testing of travellers from China. The Swedish presidency of the EU has said that this move is based on the belief that these measures were put in place to guard against possible new coronavirus variants after China reopened. These changes have also been agreed upon by non-EU members of the Schengen free travel zone, namely Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
It is important to note that the measures put in place served only as a recommendation for EU members. Some countries, such as France and Italy, imposed mandatory COVID tests and virus sequencing for passengers coming from China. However, Italy loosened its controls at the end of January.
The decision to phase out the restrictions is a welcome relief for Chinese travellers who are hoping to visit Europe. It is also a positive sign that countries are beginning to show faith in the fact that China has the virus under control.
China was among the first countries to report the emergence of the coronavirus, but it was also among the first countries to contain its spread. With the virus under control, the Chinese government has since relaxed travel restrictions for countries that have the pandemic under control.
The phasing out of restrictions is also seen as a sign of the increasingly close relationship between the EU and China, despite tensions over issues such as human rights and intellectual property. The EU has been taking steps to deepen ties with China, including the recent conclusion of an investment agreement.
The agreement, known as the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), is seen as a win for China as it provides access to the EU market, which is one of the largest in the world. In turn, the EU is hoping to secure more investment opportunities in China. However, the agreement has been met with some criticism in Europe. Critics have argued that the EU should be more cautious in its dealings with China, given the country’s track record on human rights and its increasingly assertive stance on the international stage.
Overall, the phasing out of COVID-19 restrictions on travellers from China is a positive development. It shows that countries are beginning to have faith in the measures put in place by the Chinese government to contain the spread of the virus. It is also a sign of the increasingly close relationship between the EU and China. As the pandemic continues to impact the world, it is important that countries work together to overcome this challenge.