China’s border restrictions enacted for the COVID-19 pandemic are staying in place for a minimum of one year, with Beijing officials raising concerns over new strains of the virus as “sensitive” events are on tap, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday (June 22), citing sources.
Although China has distributed more than one billion doses of the vaccine, the country is sticking to the timeline of opening borders in the second half of next year. The decision was made during a May State Council meeting, which was attended by officials from China’s Foreign Ministry and National Health Commission, as well as other government agencies in the country, per WSJ.
The Winter Olympics in February is one concern driving the decision, as well as the 10-year transfer of power in the Chinese Communist Party, which is slated for the end of 2021. It is anticipated that President Xi Jinping will go after an additional term beyond the two-term limit at the Communist Party Congress.
Officials in China are hoping that restricting new visas to people who were vaccinated will neutralize the risk of a new variant. The requirements include a minimum 14-day hotel quarantine, sources told WSJ. If China does end up rolling back restrictions, it is expected to be the first to allow travel between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macau.
As of June 10, some 16 percent of China’s population was fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. By December, it is anticipated that 80 percent of China’s population will have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Journal said, citing Goldman Sachs economists on June 6.
Travel restrictions implemented in China due to the pandemic have had the positive effect of boosting regional mall traffic. While Chinese consumers plunked down roughly $77 billion for luxury goods when traveling abroad in 2019, the following year of the pandemic saw a reversal. Shoppers in China spent an estimated three times more on local luxury goods at home than what they would typically spend overseas.