The number of newly identified cases continues to fall in China and almost all new cases are now from new arrivals from outside of the country. With this, the focus of the Chinese government is on preventing a “second wave” of the virus and extensive arrival procures and checks have been implemented. These measures have an impact on our assignees, in particular on their arrival to China.
Since the publication of this post, the Chinese government has issued strict lockdowns for the country. Read the latest in our News Hub.
For Mainland China
- We have received various reports on long and complex arrival procedures for assignees returning back to their China homes. Different cities have implemented different regulations at the airport, but in general, we have been informed of delays of several hours upon arrival before being able to proceed. We have advised our incoming assignees to be prepared for a long waiting period and subsequent procedures.
- As of March 23, China has confirmed that all passengers arriving at major city airports will undergo a compulsory “nucleic acid test” for COVID-19.
- Beijing: at present all international flights to Beijing are diverted to 12 regional airports in order to conduct the appropriate tests. Passengers on international flights need to go through quarantine inspection and customs clearance formalities at their first points of entry. Passengers who passed quarantine inspection can fly to Beijing on the original flight. Passengers who are diagnosed with symptoms will need to take treatment at the landing city before they can continue onward.
- All new arrivals in Beijing, no matter from which destination, are then also required to undergo a mandatory 14-day central quarantine stay at a government-approved hotel, and their own cost. There are only a few exceptions where some, e.g. arrivals over 70 years of age, children who are under 14 years, pregnant women, or arrivals suffering from other diseases, are permitted to do a 14-day quarantine stay at home. Due to clusters of positive test results, family members may be separated into single rooms at the quarantine facilities. Children 14 and older may also be in their own single room.
- Shanghai: As of March 26, all incoming arrivals, no matter from which destination, will need to undergo a mandatory test and then need to undergo a 14-day quarantine, either at home or a government-approved facility. Transportation from the airport will be provided to the arrivals home or the quarantine center.
- Guangdong Province. All new Chinese arrivals in Guangdong, no matter from what destination, are now required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine stay at a government-approved hotel, and their own cost. Incoming foreign passengers who have lived or traveled from 19 countries and regions will be provided with transportation to their destination and will be supervised during their quarantine.
Impact on Destination Services:
- At present, anyone not required to stay at a government quarantine facility is required to undergo a 14-day home-stay or compound quarantine upon arrival. Each compound management or neighborhood community bureau is entitled to draw up its own regulation on this topic.
- Local and International Schools in China remain closed but are conducting online learning and virtual study programs. While no further official announcement has been made on a re-opening date, there have been rumors that some schools may re-commence “live” teaching as early as mid-April.
- Campus visits are currently still not conducted but Admissions Offices are generally working remotely and are in contact with assignees on applications that have already been submitted.
- While property viewings are still restricted at many compounds, we have seen loosening of these regulations with more and more access being granted to visit compounds. Several of our housing partners, moving companies, and handymen were able to provide services at various compounds in Shanghai and we have started to provide accompanied home search where possible.
- Hubei province has also lifted its lockdown and transportation measures and social and economic life is gradually returning. Wuhan itself will re-open from the lockdown on April 8, but we are still collecting information on when we will be able to provide full services in this location.
- Social Activities: While some sports activities and clubs remain closed, we have seen a large number of re-openings during the last week. Many social spaces, public parks, promenades, zoos, and libraries are now accessible. Public spaces have in fact been very crowded last weekend with many residents taking the opportunity to venture outside. A large number of bars, restaurants, gyms, and clubs have re-opened as well.
- Cinemas are expected to open from March 28 in many destinations including Shanghai and Suzhou. Larger malls are mostly open with opening hours usually from 10am – 8pm.
- Supermarkets and grocery stores are open. We are not receiving any news or reports on food or supply shortages and hygiene masks are also becoming more readily available in drugstores at most locations. Food and grocery deliveries are working well. We are providing information on English language apps and websites for assignees to be able to order their food and grocery deliveries online.
- Heavy and peak-time traffic jams are unfortunately also returning back to several cities, although this is another indicator of economic life returning to China. This also applies to public transport and domestic trains.
- Hygiene masks continue to be mandatory for most locations while outside.
Impact on V&I Services:
- New work permit applications can still be submitted through the standard online application process and original, face to face document verification for most applications is currently not needed.
- For new residence permit applications, physical presence at the local bureaus is still required.
- During this epidemic prevention and control period, foreigners who are staying in mainland China are entitled to have their Residence Permits automatically extended for 2 months to allow for delays in the reapplication. In Shanghai, the permit is only extended automatically up to April 27, 2020, for now. This extension also applies to the Z-visa application process. The labour bureau has also confirmed that there are no punitive actions due to any delay caused by bureau or medicals centers being closed during this time of crisis.
- The medical centers in most cities have advised that foreigners can only conduct their check-ups after 14 days of having arrived in the city. Similar to check-ins at hotels and serviced apartments, this is regulated through a location track search on the mobile phone.
Impact on Corporate Housing Services:
- Serviced apartments are each issuing their own regulations to accommodate arrivals from other countries. We are advising our clients on a case by case basis if their bookings are affected.
- Some serviced apartments have been approved to offer home-quarantine services by the government and are able to offer accommodation for new arrivals (as long as they have tested negative on the preliminary screening.)
- Some serviced apartments only accept the guests who have been in China for more than 14 days with the quarantine completed.
- Some serviced apartments are currently not taking any bookings for non-Chinese nationals.
- For most cases, upon the check-in, the guests are required to provide a health QR code and complete a health declaration form. In some cases, assignees have been requested to provide a location track search on their mobile phone to document where they have been for the last 14 days.
For Hong Kong:
- Travel Ban: On March 25, the HK government implemented an inbound travel ban on all non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas. This travel ban will remain in place until April 8, 2020 and is subject to review. More information can be found on this government website.
- Compulsory quarantine for HK residents coming from overseas: A 14-day compulsory home (or other accommodation) quarantine is in place. This quarantine order is expected to remain until June 18, 2020. There are both hotels and serviced apartments who are willing to accept bookings from those observing quarantine. Dwellworks can assist with the appropriate bookings.
- Education: Schools to remain closed through to at least April 20. When schools re-open, they will do so in phases, with senior secondary pupils returning first and younger children staying at home until possibly June. Children have been receiving a mixture of live virtual lessons, pre-recorded content, as well as study links, online resources and “homework” to support their learning. The Education Bureau is allowing graduating students, sitting imminent international exams, to attend the necessary tutorial sessions. The government has confirmed the provision of subsidies to students to help alleviate school fees during class suspension.
- School Admissions: For relocating executives and their families, whilst schools remain physically closed, admissions offices are still operating and accepting new enrolments but for the 2020/2021 term.
- Immigration: On March 23, the Immigration Department reverted to increased WFH. While Immigration is still processing visa renewals and new HKID applications, they have suspended all new work visa applications with no timeline shared for review or resumption of service.
- DW operations: Our operations remain status quo.
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