China Reopening Borders Soon? When will International Travel Return?

(Updated: July 13th, 2021)

"China has no choice but to suspend the entry of foreigners due to the current epidemic, but China will stay in close touch with all sides and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world. On the premise of ensuring epidemic control, China will gradually and orderly resume personnel exchanges with other countries." This is the latest official statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & National Immigration Administration of China.

Now the epidemic is under control and the vaccination is progressing steadily around the world. Will cross-border travel resume? The covid-19 epidemic has blocked the whole world for more than one year, and people have been unable to go abroad for a long time. At present, they have accumulated great willingness to travel, which would probably lead to an explosion of revenge travel after the epidemic.
The developed countries are expected to be the first to resume cross-border travel in the second half of 2021 after the vaccination is completed. What about China? According to the current plan, China will complete the vaccination by the end of 2021 to achieve herd immunity, so we can expect that by the end of 2021 or early 2022, China will resume the normal entry of foreigners for tourism, business, visiting relatives and other exchange activities.
This is, of course, just a prediction. The resumption of international travel would actually be affected by many factors, such as epidemic control and vaccine implementation. The following is an analysis of the various influencing factors for your reference.



A Country-by-Country Guide to Epidemic Control (Updated: March 23rd 2021)

As of March 23rd 2021, some key features and data of covid-19 control are:
1. The cumulative number of confirmed cases of covid-19 worldwide is 124 million.
2. Europe had the world's largest cumulative number of confirmed cases for 20 weeks; South America ranked the first of the increasing rate of confirmed cases for 6 week; North America led in diagnosis rates for 14 consecutive weeks; Asia had the world's highest cure rate for 15 weeks; Africa got the highest death rate for 5 weeks.
3. The number of countries and regions with more than 10,000 confirmed cases has risen to 139.
4. Countries with the largest increases in confirmed cases globally include India, Brazil, USA, France, Italy, and Turkey.
Newly Reported Cases per Week by Continent
Newly Reported Cases per Week by Continent
USA: The number of new cases in the United States has been above 100,000 a week for 50 consecutive weeks, but has fallen for 10 consecutive weeks. There are still about 7 million existed confirmed cases.
Brazil: Being the most seriously affected country in South America, Brazil has more than 400,000 new cases a week, the highest weekly new cases on record. There are about 1.2 million existed confirmed cases.
India: The weekly number of new cases has exceeded 100, 000 for 4 weeks in a row, showing a slight rebound. There are about 347,000 existed confirmed cases.
France: Being one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, France has recorded more than 100,000 new cases in 11 consecutive weeks, again showing a rebound despite an overall slowdown. There are about 4 million existed confirmed cases.
Italy: The weekly number of new cases topped 100,000 for 4 consecutive weeks and rose for 5 consecutive weeks, again showing a rebound. There are about 563,000 existed confirmed cases.
China: The number of cases in mainland China has been zero for several weeks. There are only a small number of imported cases.



Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker: How many people have been vaccinated in the world? (Updated: July 2021)

As of July 12th 2021, more than 3.42 billion doses of covid-19 vaccine have been administered globally. The fully vaccinated people total about 940 million and account for about 12.1% of the world's population. Assuming that everyone gets the first dose, 3.42 billion doses would cover about 44.4% of the world's population, but the actual situation is much more complicated and unbalanced among different regions. The G7 countries, led by USA, Canada and UK, vaccinate 45% of the world's vaccines.

Here are statistics from "Our World in Data" (July 12th 2021):
Location Doses Given Fully Vaccinated % of Poulation Fully Vaccinated
China 1.37 billion 223 million --
India 376 million 72.9 million 5.3 %
USA 334 million 159 million 48.4 %
Brazil 113 million 29.9 million 14.2%
Germany 81.3 million 35 million 42.2 %
UK 80.3 million 34.5 million 51.8 %
France 59.1 million 24.4 million 36.4 %
Turkey 57.6 million 17.1 million 20.8 %
Japan 57.4 million 21.3 million 16.9 %
Italy 57.2 million 22.7 million 37.6 %
Indonesia 51.2 million 15 million 5.5 %
Mexico 49.9 million 20.5 million 16.1 %
Russia 47.3 million 18.9 million 13.1 %
Spain 46.6 million 21 million 44.7 %
Canada 42.2 million 16 million 42.7 %
Poland 31.3 million 14.9 million 39.3 %
Argentina 24.5 million 5.01 million 11.1 %
Chile 23.7 million 11.1 million 58.6 %
Colombia 20.6 million 8.31 million 16.5 %
South Korea 20.3 million 5.87 million 11.4 %
Saudi Arabia 19.6 million 2.2 million 6.4 %
Morocco 19.6 million 9.22 million 25.3 %
Pakistan 19.1 million 3.75 million 1.7 %
Netherlands 17.2 million 6.71 million 38.8 %
UAE 15.9 million 6.49 million 66.4 %
Philippines 12.9 million 3.37 million 3.1 %
Thailand 12.4 million 3.25 million 4.7 %
Belgium 11.8 million 4.6 million 40.1 %
Malaysia 11.1 million 3.43 million 10.7 %
Israel 10.9 million 5.19 million 57.3 %
Covid-19 Vaccine

1. Number and Proportion of People Fully Vaccinated (2 doses)

The countries with the largest number of fully vaccinated people are: China, USA, India, Germany, UK, Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and Canada. As of July 12th 2021, countries with more than 50% of the population having full vaccination include UAE (66.4%), Chile (58.6%), Israel (57.3%), Uruguay (55.4%), Hungary (52.5%), and UK (51.8%).

2. China is the country with the most vaccinated people in the world.

China currently vaccinates far more people than any other countries. As of July 12th 2021, more than 1.37 billion doses has been given, and 223 million people have been fully vaccine.

3. USA Vaccine Progress

As of July 12th 2021, more than 67.7% of adults, and 55% of the US population, has received at least one dose. President Joe Biden once announced a goal to have 70% of adults receive at least their first shot by July 4, but now it needs additional time to achieve the target.

4. Israel is the country with the highest percentage of people vaccinated.

The top 10 countries with the highest vaccination coverage are dominated by small countries with a population within 1 million. Among them, Seychelles, Malta, Iceland, UAE, and Israel have more than 57% of their people vaccinated with the first dose. Israel has the highest vaccination rate in the world, with more than 90% of the first dose and 57.3% of the population having completed the second dose, far higher than any other countries. Therefore, on a global scale, the first country to achieve universal immunization would be Israel.

5. The global distribution of covid-19 vaccines is extremely uneven.

Of the 10 countries with the largest number of confirmed cases globally, only the UK and the US have vaccination rates of more than 55% on their first dose. Vaccination rates vary by as much as 34 times in the top 10 countries with the most confirmed cases. The vaccination rate in high-income countries are about four times higher than that in middle-income countries.
At the current speed for vaccination, USA is expected to reach the threshold for herd immunity in July 2021; however, it would take at least 7 years for India to achieve herd immunity. The global imbalance in covid-19 vaccination could lead to two different herd immunity pathways: one, like USA, relies on increasing vaccination rates; another, like India, realizes herd immunity because of high infection rates. For less developed countries with poor public health conditions, the latter means higher mortality.



Latest Entry Policies of Different Countries (Updated: March 2021)

Entry PoliciesGiven the different situation of the epidemic in different areas around the world, all countries are constantly adjusting their entry policies. As the epidemic control improves, some countries relax their entry policies, while some turn away or impose more restrictions on people from countries and regions at high risk of the disease. The following is a summary of some of the latest policies.
1. Most countries allow entry of foreigners holding diplomatic visa, official visa, or the long-term residence permit.
2. Many countries have tightened their visa policies to grant entry only to those with special needs.
3. Besides regular entry documents, people starting cross-border travel must do some tests of covid-19, like nucleic acid test, serology IgM antibody test, and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, while better get the covid-19 vaccination.
In view of the dynamic adjustment of policies in many countries in response to the epidemic, the following information is for reference only. For details, please refer to the latest policies of the immigration authority of your destination.
Destinations Entry Requirements
USA Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure, 7 days home quarantine after entry, second nucleic acid test in 3 to 5 days after entry.
Canada 3 times of nucleic acid tests, 3+14 days quarantine after entry.
UK Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure, 10 days quarantine after entry, 2 times of nucleic acid tests on the second day and the eighth day after entry.
France Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure, 7 days quarantine after entry, RT-PCR test
Portugal Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure.
Greece Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure, 7 to 14 days quarantine after entry, second nucleic acid test after entry, passenger location form (PLF).
Australia Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure, 14 days quarantine after entry,
New Zealand Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure.
China Health Declaration Form, Health Declaration Certificate (HDC), negative proof of covid-19 nucleic acid and serology IgM antibody tests within 48 hours before departure, 14+7+7 days quarantine after entry.
Thailand Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure, 14 days quarantine after entry, health declaration form.
Indonesia Nucleic acid test after entry,5 days centralized quarantine.
Philippines RT-PCR test after 6 days centralized quarantine.
South Korea Negative result of nucleic acid test within 3 days before departure, 14 days quarantine after entry, second nucleic acid test in 7 days after entry.



When will international travel return? 

How to strike a balance between the prevention and control of covid-19 and the resumption of entry and exit of passengers is an issue that all countries in the world have to face. Whether the countries dare to open their doors and resume cross-border travel depends largely on how well the epidemic is controlled, in other words, how well the vaccine is administered.
From the perspective of vaccine coverage, the ordering rate of vaccines in developed countries is high, while the coverage in low-income countries is limited. According to the data from Duke Global Health Center, as of February 2021, more than 10 billion doses of vaccines have been ordered globally. Among them, the orders of high-income countries and regions such as USA and the European Union have exceeded 2 billion doses each. The orders of Canada, USA, UK and New Zealand have covered 100% of their population. However, low-income countries are constrained by problems such as research and development capacity and lack of funds, and are in a weak position in vaccine distribution.
♦ Prediction:
1. Israel is most likely the first country in the world to receive herd immunity through vaccines. Israel has the highest vaccination rate in the world, with more than 54% of its population fully vaccinated. The Israeli government says it will dispense with the need for masks as early as April. It will open doors to visitors from all over the world. Israel's wealth and small population are the main reasons for its high vaccination rate.
2. The developed countries are expected to open up cross-border tourism in the second half of 2021. USA, UK, UAE, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, as well as some developed countries in Europe, such as Germany, France, and Denmark, are all in the fast process of vaccination at present. It is estimated that more than 80% of their population will be vaccinated and the herd immunity will be achieved by mid-2021. Travel among these countries will resume in the second half of 2021.
3. The emerging developing countries, like China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, Brazil and Egypt, are expected to complete universal vaccination by the first half of 2022 and open doors by mid-2022.
4. In Africa and other least developed regions, the vaccination may not be completed until the second half of 2022.

♦ To sum up, the global herd immunity would probably take 2 to 3 years to achieve. The cross-border flows between developed countries will begin after August 2021. The global travel will take time, with a full recovery expected around the end of 2022.



When will China reopen its borders to foreign tourists?

Tourists Wearing Masks on the Bund, Shanghai
Tourists Wearing Masks on the Bund, Shanghai
♦ Who can enter China now? Latest Entry Policy since Sep. 28th 2020
Most foreigners cannot enter now except the following three groups of people:
1. Foreigners holding Chinese diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C visas;
2. Foreigners holding Chinese visas issued on or after March 28th 2020;
3. Foreigners holding Chinese residence permits for work, private affairs, or reunion.
Read more:
♦ Reopening Date Prediction: End of 2021
The time of resuming normal entry of foreigners to China depends on the situation of epidemic control in foreign countries and China's own vaccination process. China is the safest country now in terms of covid-19 prevention, currently without reports of community infection but only a small amount of imported cases, which have been well tracked and controlled.
The overall situation is stable, and now the whole country is on a universal vaccination campaign. By July 2021, a total of 1.37 billion doses had been vaccinated, but the proportion of the vaccinated population is still relatively low, and the follow-up vaccine production and vaccination task remain urgent. The vaccine is safe and effective, and has been extended from the healthy adults aged from 18 to 59 to those aged 60 or above who are in good physical condition. It will also be administered among children aged from 3 to 17 as soon as the government approves.
China's production capacity for covid-19 vaccine could reach more than 1 billion doses in 2021. Experts predict that China would complete its original plan to ensure 70-80% of vaccination coverage by early 2022, when ordinary people may no longer need to wear masks. Therefore we can expect China to reopen to foreign tourists by late 2021 or early 2022.



Conditions for Fully Opening-up of Cross-border Travel: Covid Vaccine Passport?

As a global vaccination campaign gets under way, the concept of a "covid vaccine passport" is gaining support from a growing number of countries as they try to overcome the effects of blockades and travel bans. However, there is a great controversy on the mutual recognition of vaccines among countries and the possible issue of discrimination. Can the vaccine passport really be a breakthrough in personnel exchange and economic recovery in the future?

UK Launched Vaccine Passport Trial

By the end of March 2021, the lockdown on parts of the UK had begun to be lifted. The British government, which has the fastest vaccination rate in Europe, has announced it will further relax the ban and pilot a vaccine passport policy across England to ensure the safe return of major sporting events and other large-scale indoor activities. The UK's National Health Service (NHS) is developing a system that will allow people to present a "vaccine passport" via a mobile app, including information about vaccination, results of covid-19 tests, and natural immunity, etc.

Many EU Countries Itch to Try Vaccine Passport

In fact, UK is not the only country interested in the vaccine passport. The European Union plans to introduce a regionally common vaccination certificate by this summer. Countries that rely heavily on tourism, such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, have pushed for the introduction of the certificate to promote free movement within Europe. Greece has even made a bold plan to open its door to overseas tourists in mid-May.

USA: Pros and Cons on Vaccine Passport

The White House said the USA would also introduce the vaccine passport, but unlike other countries around the world, the US government will not be the main driver but the policy maker for the vaccine passport, setting guidelines to allow private companies and groups to take the lead. Theatres and educational institutions are expected to be among the first to use vaccine passports. New York pioneered the nation's first vaccine pass program in late March, and officials in Hawaii are considering doing the same, but some Republican governors have resisted the vaccine passport, saying it is government overreach and will invade people's privacy.

Asia: Thailand is the First Proponent.

Since April 2021, Thailand has allowed vaccinated tourists to enter 6 tourist destinations, including Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai, reducing the quarantine period to 7 days. As the vaccination rate among local Thai residents climbs, it is expected that from July, vaccinated international visitors will no longer need to be quarantined. In addition, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, and Israel are also considering the implementation of vaccine passport.

China: International Travel Health Certificate

How would China reopen its borders without losing its grip on covid-19? China’s strict containment measures have been successful in the past year, but how can it deal with the coming situation when the rest of the world resumes cross-border travel? Unlike the vaccine passport, China had launched its own version of “International Travel Health Certificate” in March, a comprehensive certificate including the holder’s vaccination status, covid-19 nucleic acid test result, and serology IgM antibody test result. It contains an encrypted QR code that can be verified by relevant authorities of other countries, which possibly allows it to be the pass for future cross-border travel.
Read more:
Chinese Version of “International Travel Health Certificate” Officially Launched on March 7th ,2021
Covid Vaccine Passport
Covid Vaccine Passport
China: International Travel Health Certificate
China: International Travel Health Certificate
♦ Both the vaccine passport that many countries are trying to promote and the health certificate of China are based on the premise of the smooth progress of the vaccination around the world, and the key point is the international mutual recognition of the covid-19 test results and the effectiveness of different vaccines. Only in this way can the reopening of the world gradually be achieved.



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Popular Travel Destinations in 2021

Where can you travel? We recommend big cities rather than remote areas, for their developed facilities and effective epidemic control measures. Here are top 10 low-risk destinations for your reference: Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Xi’an, Huangshan, Zhangjiajie, Guizhou, Luoyang, and Xiamen.
- Last modified on Jul. 13, 2021 -