The coronavirus (now officially called ‘COVID-19’) outbreak in China has seen unprecedented media coverage as of late. There is a lot of information out there regarding the current situation in China and what people should and should not be doing.

In this post we’re going to look at the impact the virus has had on travel and transport within China and whether it’s still safe to travel to/around China at this time.

Is it Safe to Travel to/Around China?

The first thing we ought to make clear is that it really isn’t our place to tell you what to do. We can only advise based on the research we have gathered. Basically, both the US and UK governments have issued statements advising against travelling to or within China. In fact, they are urging their citizens to leave China.

The US State Department has declared China a ‘level 4 (do not travel)’ on the Travel Advisory Scale, which has four levels:

  1. Exercise normal precautions
  2. Exercise increased caution
  3. Reconsider travel
  4. Do not travel

The UK government has advised against all travel to Hubei Province (the center of the outbreak) and has advised against all but essential travel to anywhere else in China. They also note that the British consulates in Wuhan and Chongqing (two major cities in the heart of the danger zone) are closed and have advised any British citizens currently in China to leave if they are able.

It’s important to note, however, that the World Health Organisation did not advise against any trade or travel restrictions to or from China. Many countries may in fact be overreacting due to media hype of the situation.

So what we have gathered from both the US and UK statements is that it isn’t currently safe for foreigners to enter China. So if you have travel plans to visit China in the upcoming months, we would suggest monitoring the situation very carefully and consider cancelling your trip until things have settled down.

Additionally, many airlines have halted flights to and from China. Among these are British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Well known tour operators such as Dragon Trip (UK) are also erring on the side of caution by cancelling upcoming tours.

A number of countries have also put China travel restrictions in place, to see a full list, click here.

(Photo: Fox Busines)

Travel Restrictions Within China Due to COVID-19

Travel routes and public transportation within China has also been majorly restricted. The provinces which currently have the most restrictions in place are Zhejiang, Chongqing, Anhui and Heilongjiang.

In Beijing, after an extended Chinese New Year break, work has now resumed. Subway operations, as a result, have also resumed but things aren’t quite ‘back to normal’ yet. When entering the subway, passengers must first stand in front of an infrared monitor which checks their temperature. There are also guards on duty to make sure everyone is wearing face masks. If you’re not, you won’t be allowed to ride the train.

Authorities, in an effort to prevent the spreading of the virus, have also limited passenger numbers on the subway during rush hour, increased the amount of trains and buses running and enhanced disinfection by disinfecting publish areas (train cars, bathrooms and ticket vending machines) five times a day.

Shanghai, another of China’s biggest cities in in a similar position. There are videos online showing Shanghai as looking like a deserted ghost town. It’s hard to believe that one of the world’s biggest cities could look so empty. The reason for this is that people have opted to stay inside their homes out fo fear of contracting the virus. However, the number of people on the streets is likely to increase now that people are having to return to work.

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, it’s likely that many Chinese citizens will consider buying a car as the safety of travelling in one’s own vehicle is comforting compared to being in a (potentially) crowded subway car.

Conclusion

We recommend continually monitoring the situation in China through the various official channels such as government websites and the WHO.

If you’re interested in how COVID-19 is affecting education in China, click here to read our previous article.

Remember – stay healthy and most importantly, stay posititve!

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