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Today In Covid: AirBnB Leaves China Market, Travel Rules Updated, Robot PCR Tests

As always… some good news, some bad news, some weird news.
2022-05-24 16:00:00

Hello, again, from paradise on earth!

For your perusal, all the Covid news fit to pass the WeChat platforms we're following, distilled like fine Family Mart delivery red wine, and forwarded on to you.

AirBnB is done with domestic business in China

I guess the tourism industry is a tough racket to be in these days. U.S.-originating online marketplace for temporary lodgings, rentals, and "experiences" has announce that they will be reorienting their operations out of the domestic China marketplace in July 2022.

An official announcement from Co-Founder and Chairman of AirBnB China, Nathan Blecharczyk has been making the WeChat rounds:

"We have made the difficult decision to refocus ourefforts in China on outbound travel and suspendour homes and Experiences of Hosts in China,starting from July 30, 2022. We are committed to helping you with thistransition and we will be sharing a series ofimportant updates over the coming days andweeks about what we are doing and how we canhelp. Details will be pushed out via in-APP channelsand our China Host community WeChat handle."

Reportedly, although AirBnB has closed the domestic business, they are still going to keep a team of approximately 100 staff on for product and tech development, as well as overseas business and customer service. Great that those people are keeping their jobs.

AirBnB built a solid foundation since entering the market in January 2020, despite stiff competition from local platforms like Oyo, 途家 (Tujia), 小猪 (Xiaozhu).

Then that pandemic thing happened.

And is stillhappening.

And so it goes.

Ride services are now taking calls for people traveling to airports, train stations, hospitals

Didi and most of the subway lines are still out but the local gov has authorized four call centers to accept hired car bookings for people needing to travel to hospitals or exit / entry sites.

They are: Johnson & Johnon (6258 0000); Volkswagon (96822); Haibo (96933); and Jinjiang (96961).

As of this writing, the subway lines that are offering limited service are Lines 3, 6, 10, and 16.

New rules again for people entering China. It's... easier?

Another development making the WeChat rounds. Here's a brief rundown in case you missed it. The rules have been relaxed in terms of people crossing the Chinese border vis-a-vis the Covid test paperwork you need to get in. It varies by country of flight origin. Check the embassy website of your departure country for specifics. But basically:

  • The requirement that travelers need a PCR test one week before boarding has been cancelled;
  • IgM antibody testing has been cancelled. (This is a big thing, as many people who have previously had Covid will likely fail this test.)
  • You used to have to do a self-monitoring period of 7 days before boarding and have documentation of that. They cancelled that.

Generally, the new rules stipulate people need to complete two PCR tests 48 hours prior to boarding and one antigen test within 12 hours before boarding.

Here's all the rules on how to fly into China.

Also, when you're done that. Here's a link to the "Collatz Conjecture", one of the hardest mathematical equations ever, which is still unsolved since 1937. Maybe you can take a crack at it after you've sorted out your entry requirements out.

Concurrently, in the past weeks, the Chinese government has also been shortening the quarantine period upon arrival. For example, Beijing has been implementing a 10-day hotel quarantine and a 7-day home quarantine for people coming in from overseas. Other cities will likely follow. As of this writing, Shanghai still follows a 14+7 mode, meaning 14 days central quarantine in a hotel, and 7 days self-monitoring at home. Six covid tests will be done in total during that period.

The Immigration Bureau specifies it new rules for leaving the country

Responding to last week's backlash against new rules regarding people being able to leave the country, the Immigration Bureau, on their official WeChat platform, offered up some more details on the specific reasons people can leave the country. It appears that in addition to work, school, and "people who are fighting the pandemic", people who are visiting family abroad can travel as well.

Here's what they're saying:

"Immigration management agencies at all levels will continue to actively guarantee the needs of domestic and foreign enterprises, Chinese and foreign personnel... reasonable entry and exit needs... Participate in epidemic prevention and anti-epidemic; engage in business, scientific research, study abroad...

...For women, necessary reasons such as attending relatives' weddings and graduation ceremonies, family reunions, handling emergencies abroad and other urgent personal affairs, the immigration management agency shall accept and approve entry and exit certificates in a timely manner. In case of emergency, it will also provide "green channels" convenience."

Although it specifies "for women", we're hoping dudes can get out to go to weddings too.

This dude, for one, loves weddings.

I would CRUSH a wedding right now.

Here's the latest word on when things will open up: "Before May 31"

It's so hard to see the computer screen through the tears — the tears — streaming down our faces. So, without further comment, here's what the city gov WeChat platform today is saying about lockdown being lifted: "before May 31".

Do with this what you will:

"Orderly promote the resumption of offline business and restaurants, hairdressing, washing and dyeing services. Online and offline takeaway will be implemented before May 31. For haircut, washing and dyeing services, online booking, offline staggered peak and flow limiting and other measures will be implemented before May 31..."

Covid Camps are here to stay; Shanghai is building permanent ones

According to officials quoted in the Global Times, the Covid Camps (fangcang hospitals) will be a permanent feature in our cityscape for some time to come. How delightful.

From the GT:

"Ma Xiaowei, Director of the National Health Commission, previously revealed that China plans to build permanent facilities and more COVID-19 test sites to enhance the country's ability to prevent and control the coronavirus at the early stage of infection."

"First, I want to stress that the construction of permanent support hospitals is not a decision made because of a worsening epidemic but based on the characters of the Omicron variant which spreads fast, easily infects people and causes less severe disease," Guo explained."

SmartShanghai would like to concurrently announce that we're shifting our fabulous Shanghai lifestyle coverage from restaurant reviews to fangcang hospitals reviews and if they pay me enough I'll bar crawl all of them.


An Entry-Exit Bureau success story

Hey! Sometimes stuff works out. Keep the faith, people.

Behold our new robot PCR test overlords

The future is going to be a wonderful, dizzying, and terrifying place...