People check in at an airport in Chongqing to fly home for the winter holidays. （Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn）
Notice aims for resumption of regular road, rail, air transportation operations
China's transportation authorities have directed all domestic transportation service providers to resume regular operations in response to the optimized COVID-19 containment measures and boost the flow of goods and passengers, while also facilitating the resumption of work and production.
People traveling to other regions by road no longer need to show a negative nucleic acid test result or the health code, and they are not required to be tested upon arrival or to register their health information, according to a notice released by the Ministry of Transport.
The ministry categorically asked all areas that suspended transportation services due to the epidemic control measures to promptly restore regular operations.
Support will be extended to transportation operators to encourage them to provide various services, including customized transport options and e-tickets, the notice said.
China State Railway Group, the national railway operator, confirmed that the 48-hour nucleic acid test rule, which was mandatory for train passengers until recently, had been lifted along with the need to show the health code.
Nucleic acid testing booths have already been removed at many train stations, such as Beijing Fengtai Railway Station. The national railway operator said that more train services will be arranged to meet the travel needs of passengers.
Temperature checks are no longer needed to enter airports, and passengers are happy with the optimized rules.
Guo Mingju, a Chongqing resident who has asthma, flew to Sanya in Southern China's Hainan province last week.
"After three years, I finally enjoyed the freedom of traveling," he said, adding that he was not required to do a COVID-19 test or show the health code to board his flight.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has drafted a work plan to guide domestic carriers on orderly resumption of flights.
According to the work plan, airlines cannot operate more than 9,280 domestic flights per day until Jan 6. It sets the goal to resume 70 percent of the daily flight volume of 2019 to ensure that airlines have sufficient time to retrain their staff.
"The threshold for cross-regional travel has been removed. If it (the decision to optimize rules) is effectively implemented, it may boost travel during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday," said Zou Jianjun, a professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China.
However, significant growth, like the surge that followed the SARS outbreak in 2003, is unlikely because health concerns related to travel still remain, he added.
The annual Spring Festival travel rush will begin on Jan 7 and continue until Feb 15. As people travel across China for family reunions, it will be a fresh test for the transportation sector amid optimized restrictions.