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China travel increases as COVID restrictions are lifted

After years of being criticized for severe travel restrictions due to the novel coronavirus, people in China are suddenly rushing to book international travel before borders reopen early next year.

Big picture: Shortly after China eased quarantine requirements for international travel, air travel ticket sales soared, paving the way for holidaymakers to take to the skies.

News promotion: New data from Trip.com Group shows Chinese residents are flocking out of the country, reports The Wall Street Journal.

  • Data from Trip.com cited by Reuters showed a 254% surge in outbound flight bookings in the early hours of Tuesday morning following the lifting of restrictions.
  • The most popular choices were short trips on short flights and included Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

Catch up soon: China announced on Monday that it would end quarantine requirements for all arriving travelers, including Chinese residents returning from abroad.

  • Abolishing the requirement was the latest move by China to ease its “zero COVID” policy, which cuts off China’s borders from the rest of the world, since the pandemic began.

Yes, but: Elimination of quarantine and testing for travelers means it will be more difficult for China to detect and contain new outbreaks.

  • Authorities have stopped releasing daily COVID data, but cases are believed to be on the rise across China.

Zoom out: China is now grappling with ways to get things back to normal without overwhelming the country’s healthcare system. This is a problem that several countries have had to deal with throughout the pandemic.

  • China eased some restrictions earlier this month after nationwide protests began in November.
  • However, according to multiple reports, the loosening of restrictions has led to a flood of COVID cases and deaths. The World Health Organization said it was “extremely concerned” about the number of severe cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, according to the Associated Press.

Further details:

Beijing faces dilemma as COVID death toll rises

China ends quarantine for travelers despite spike in COVID cases