In a troubling sign that increasing restrictions in response to NCP are nowhere near subsiding, Beijing announced yesterday that it has expanded its 14-day quarantine requirements. This announcement applies only to Beijing; however, Tier 1 cities have generally been lock-in-step with rules like this recently so we expect to see similar rules taking hold across the country; possibly with little to no warning.

 

Beijing's New 14-Day Quarantine Requirement

The Office of the Leading Group for the Prevention and Control of the new coronavirus pneumonia in Beijing issued a notice yesterday that, effective immediately, all those returning to Beijing should stay at home or under observation for 14 days. The announcement didn't specify any penalties for violating the policy other than saying that those who do shall be held accountable according to law. Before returning to Beijing, residence must report to building and community (village) in which they live.

Source: 北京通告:即日起,所有返京人员居家或集中观察14天


The previous quarantine rules, which as of 9 a.m. this morning are in place in Shanghai, Shenzhen and other cities, are that only those that have been through any epidemic areas or were found to be infected have to go through the 14 day quarantine.

Source: 返深人员需要隔离14天吗?你关心的都在这儿了!

 

If you are planning to travel anywhere in China, it’s probably a good idea to personally check directly yourself what the current rules are at every point. Things are changing constantly, and various complexes, communities, villages and companies are even making up their own rules to safeguard themselves.

  • Call your airline and or hotel or visit their websites for announcements;
  • Contact your community or apartment complex management office;
  • Call or check with the HR department of any company you are visiting;
  • Visit the official government websites of the city you are traveling to, and any you are stopping at along the way, for their official published regulations/announcements.


Is your Business Struggling?

If your business is suffering from financial difficulties during this time you may be able to get help in the form of loans, reduced fees, taxes, interests rates, etc.  This article (in Chinese) provides some insight into several measures implemented to support enterprises in coping with the difficulties brought about by the response to ncp, and how you can apply.

 

Staying in China on a Tourist or Business Visa

Ever since Hong Kong implemented its 14-day quarantine requirement for anyone entering Hong Kong from mainland China, one of the most frequently asked questions we've seen is what to do about border runs. Although Macau is currently still an option, if you're on a tourist or business visa with a 30 or 60 day stay that's about to expire, you may want to consider leaving. There are no tourist attractions open at this time and by the looks of things there won't be much business to do for a while either.

 

The SZ Metro to Require Real-Name Verification to Ride Subway

The Shenzhen Metro announced this morning that effective Sunday February 16th, all passengers must go through the real-name verification process (if they haven't already), in order to ride on any of its trains or lines. Those that use an app or mini-program that provide a QR Code to enter the subway are already doing this but those that were using any sort of card, pass or token will need to scan a QR Code upon entering the station to complete the process. The move is being touted as a "contact-less" ride and one that helps provide traceability in the epidemic prevention and control efforts. For questions, call the Shenzhen Metro Service Hotline 0755-88960600 or MTR (Shenzhen) 0755-29276688 for help.

Source: 注意!深圳地铁将启动实名制乘车,以下车票将暂停发售

 

Restaurant Restrictions Increasing

You may have noticed that it's getting harder and harder to find places to eat-out in Shenzhen and last night just got worse. A string of restaurants were asked to no longer allow dine-in seating. Walking through the popular tourist and expat destination of Sea World, in Shekou, Shenzhen, you could see some restaurants open but no seating. Even McDonald's and KFC had all their chairs put away. Restaurants that are open are mostly focusing now on take-away and delivery service. On Monday, we'll publish a list of restaurants that are happy to help keep you well fed during this control period.

 

Admiration and Amazement at China's Strength and Committment to Health and Safety

Despite the obvious economic toll the increasing restrictions in response to NCP are having and are going to have for the foreseeable future, one can't help but admire and be in amazement at China’s ability to mobilize something like this and pull it off so quickly. Their willingness to take such strong precautions and do what no other country in the world could do, or would be willing to do, all in the name of health and safety is admirable. 

 

I can't help but compare this current situation to October 2009, when my pregnant wife and I travelled to the U.S. from China for three months. We didn't think twice about travelling there despite the U.S. being amid the H1N1 virus outbreak. At that point, the CDC had just reported roughly 22 million cases of infection, 98,000 hospitalizations, and 3,900 deaths (1). A later study found that an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people died worldwide from the 2009 H1N1 virus infection during that first year (2). We were there for months in the middle of that without being asked to take any precautionary measures and when we returned to China, we weren't quarantined or even asked to fill out a health declaration form. In contrast, to help make sure NCP doesn't cause a global pandemic, Chinese people are enthusiastically isolating themselves, businesses are taking on massive financial losses, communities are locking down their residents, and civil servants donning hazmat suits are manning an increasing number of checkpoints in scenes looking eerily akin to something you’d see in Hollywood movies about extinction level pandemics.

 

Let's hope the next step is mandatory detention for anyone spitting in public.

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/estimates/April_October_17.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/pandemic-global-estimates.htm

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