Beijing flights cancelled as city tightens Covid travel restrictions

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People check a health QR code as a precaution against the Covid-19 coronavirus, before entering a shopping mall in Beijing on November 2, 2021.

Jade Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

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BEIJING – About half of flights to and from Beijing’s two airports were canceled on Tuesday as the capital tightened travel restrictions after a spate of new cases in the city and other parts of the country in the past few days.

That’s according to airline industry data website VariFlight, which tracks approximately 800 to 1,000 flights for both Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport.

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China has a strict “zero tolerance” policy to control the coronavirus.

Local authorities, especially in the capital, are on high alert after a handful of locally transmitted coronavirus cases over the weekend indicated that the recent surge in cases may spread outside only a few areas. To be clear, the numbers pale in comparison to most major cities in the world.

The Beijing Health Commission announced Monday that residents who have left the city on business or leisure trips to areas with confirmed cases should “postponed” their return and stay put, according to CNBC’s translation of the Chinese text. Residents must The commission said avoid leaving the city unless necessary.

Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International Airport remains more empty than usual on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

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The official announcement followed tales on Chinese social media over the weekend of people unable to book a flight back to the capital. It was not clear how many were affected.

Shanghai Disneyland abruptly closed entry to new visitors on Sunday, Halloween, and more than 33,000 people who have been in the park since Saturday have been tested. None of them have tested positive, according to the city.

Of particular importance to Beijing, the city prepares for a high-level political meeting next week, and is gearing up to host the Winter Olympics in February.

Airport staff contacted by CNBC said that people from a city or county with a confirmed case of coronavirus cannot enter Beijing. Those coming from areas with no Covid cases must submit Covid test results from the last 48 hours and monitor their health for 14 days after entering the city.

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China’s “zero tolerance” policy for Covid-19 means that all travelers from abroad are required to undergo quarantine in certain hotels upon arrival in the country. Airport staff said that for those who wish to enter Beijing, they must first complete a 21-day quarantine in other cities.

Mainland China reported 54 new locally transferred cases on Monday, bringing the total number of current cases to just over 900, according to the National Health Commission. The city of Beijing has reported 4 additional Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday morning.

These numbers are much smaller than those reported in other countries such as the United States, where the number of daily coronavirus cases is more than 80,000.

The highly contagious virus first appeared in China in late 2019. The country was able to contain the spread of the virus nationwide by the beginning of the second quarter of last year, and there were almost no deaths from the virus since its initial outbreak.

Meanwhile, the virus has spread abroad in a global pandemic that has killed at least 5 million people as of Monday.

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