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Today in Covid: Yellow Codes, Invitation Letters, and (Night) Life Returning

Getting dynamic with all the latest updates
2022-06-15 15:00:00

Here's the latest smattering of Covid-related new in case you missed it.

Personal Invitation Letters for Visas Cancelled...

In an effort to further loosen the barriers for foreigners applying for new Chinese work visas, government officials have announced the cancellation of the official invitation letter policy. Several foreign embassies, including the US, Germany, India, and Indonesia have followed suit and updated their application guidelines.

A policy enacted in 2020, invitation letters were significantly difficult to get and only available to workers in certain industries.

CEO of a huge multi-national conglomerate? Sure. Freelance graphic designer? Not so much.

It's now possible to get a work visa (a Z visa) to enter China for work again. If you have a job in China (or find one), the company applies for a "Notification Letter of Foreigner's Work Permit" 工作许可通知, and with this you can get a Z visa from your embassy which will be turned into a temporary resident permit here in China. If you're outside of China and you work permit has expired, it means going through the process again from scratch:

Visa services for tourists, students, or any other non-work, non-family-related reasons are still suspended.

...Your Family Can Visit You Again, Too.

In addition to that, and even bigger news in particular for families that have been separated, spouses and family members of people holding residence permits are now able to apply for visas. After the border closure in 2020, it was nearly impossible for family members of foreigners to visit them in China. That has also changed. Via the above mentioned announcements comes the news that family members of those moving to China for work or already working in China can apply for a visa, and that includes spouses, parents, children under 18, and parents-in-laws.

So, that's one hurdle down. Issues remain, however, with long quarantine times on arrival and really expensive flights.

Which brings us to...

Will there be more flights?

Whatever relaxation there is on the visa front, none of it really matters when there aren't any affordable flights available. Foreign airlines are still limited to one flight a week with a max 40% capacity on inbound flights. (There's no limit on outbound flights, which explains why outbound flights are so much cheaper.)

We are currently looking at flight ticket prices in the RMB 80K range for a one-way Economy Class ticket from Europe to Shanghai. And we're expecting prices to rise even more with the cancelation of the personal invitation letter.

We've heard of people looking at flying through Hong Kong, which is a lot cheaper but adds another week of quarantine in Hong Kong.

We're hoping the situation improves in the coming months. The Global Times is reporting that the government and aviation authorities are working together to steadily increase flight quotas to and from China, prioritizing Chinese carriers to reestablish and increase flights in and out of China.

Cities Around China Reduce Quarantine Times for International Arrivals

Chinese media is reporting that some cities in China have reduced mandatory quarantine times for international arrivals. Beijing, Nanjing, and Wuhan "appear to have shortened" their quarantine times to 7 days in a hotel / quarantine site and 7 days at home, with all the nucleic testing that goes along with that.

Other landing ports in China, including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Chengdu, Ji'nan and Dalian will keep implementing the 14+7 or 10+7 quarantine measures.

The reduced times are reported to be enacted on a "trial basis", so provided some cataclysmic disaster doesn't befall us all, perhaps we'll see a shorter mandatory quarantine time for international arrivals in Shanghai soon.

Nightlife, Arts, Culture Returning to the City in July... Probably

No official announcement has been made for when bars, clubs, galleries, and concert venues can re-open... but word on the street is July. We've heard rumblings of people getting their performance permits and bookings in order to host July events. Including, Shanghai's beloved theatre venue The Pearl.

The joys of drinking in the street notwithstanding, fingers crossed for the gradual and dynamic reopening of shows, concerts, performances, and general drinking in an air conditioned place in July.

Yellow Codes Coming for People Who Don't Test Regularly

On June 11, Shanghai Fabu announced that citizens should take at least one Covid test every week. Failure to do so will result in a yellow health code, meaning you're only allowed to stay in your compound, go get a Covid test, or go to specific hospitals. Since you already need a 72-hour negative test to access most venues and public transport, for most people, this is a non-issue.

Annoying? Yes. Life changing? Not really.

If your code turns yellow, it will be green again under 24 hours after you take the test. The regulation sounds more like a strategy for the city to monitor the societal cases of people who don't go out often. According officials, this will be the policy until July 31.