|With the number of new cases continuing to fall, the focus of the Chinese government is mainly on preventing a resurgence of the virus. The country has implemented a number of far-reaching measures to block and screen any incoming arrivals.|
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For Mainland China
- At present China has blocked the arrival of all foreigners to China, no matter their destination. Entry for non-Chinese nationals is denied, even for those holding existing visas and work and resident permits. All port visa services will be suspended for the time being, including transit visas, special economic zone visas, APAC card permits, and cruise ship visa exemption. There has not been any further update on the length of this ban.
- For a full copy of the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, please visit:
- Our team has been reviewing all active files and we are following up with your consultants should any of your active files currently under management be affected by this ban.
- For China nationals arriving, we have received reports on long and complex arrival procedures. 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 long waiting period and subsequent procedures. All passengers arriving at major city airports need to undergo a compulsory “nucleic acid test” for COVID-19.
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 their 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, some schools have given preliminary signals that they are planning to re-commence “live” teaching by mid-April to early May, subject to government approval.
- Campus visits are still not being conducted but Admissions Offices are generally working remotely and are in contact with assignees on applications that have already been submitted.
- Access to property compounds has been easier to facilitate, and we have been able to conduct a number property viewings in Shanghai and Beijing.
- Hubei province has also lifted its lockdown and transportation measures, and social and economic life is gradually returning.
- Social Activities: While some sports activities and clubs remain closed, we have seen a large number of re-openings during the last weeks. Many social spaces, public parks, promenades, zoos, and libraries are now accessible. While parks are open, there is still ban for gatherings and group activities. There are volunteers in the parks to monitor this and ensure people wear masks at all times.
- A large number of cinemas had opened after March 28 in many destinations, however, several of them have now closed again in order to retain a further spread. 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. This also applies to public transport and domestic trains.
Impact on V&I Services:
- During this epidemic prevention and control period, foreigners who are staying in mainland China are entitled to have their Residence Permits automatically extended for two months to allow for delays in the reapplication for most locations. 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.
- 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. We are expecting additional changes in the coming week, due to the newly stated arrival ban.
- For new residence permit applications, physical presence at the local bureaus is still required.
- 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 are currently not taking any bookings for non-Chinese nationals. We are expecting this number to increase due to the arrival ban from last week.
- 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.
- 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:
- Inbound 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 in place for 2.5 more months (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: On March 21, the Education Bureau confirmed all schools will be suspended until further notice, which could mean that schools may remain closed for the remainder of this school year. Children will continue to receive 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, while schools remain physically closed, admissions offices are still operating and accepting new enrolments but for the 2020/2021.
- Immigration: On March 23, the Immigration Department reverted to WFH rotation. There is no timeline shared for review. Delays for new visa applications are directly impacted.
- DW operations: Our operations remain status quo.
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