The Chinese mainland will scrap health declarations procedure for entry and exit starting from Wednesday, according to customs authority. Although those who show symptoms of infectious diseases are still required to make a voluntary declaration, the entry or exit process will be similar to that in the pre-COVID years.
The Chinese General Administration of Customs (GAC) on Tuesday announced that it will abolish arrangements for border-crossing personnel to fill in health declaration card, commonly known as the "black code," with effect from Wednesday, in accordance to the relevant provisions of the Frontier Health and Quarantine Law.
However, travelers who are diagnosed or display symptoms of infectious diseases are demanded to declare to customs officers at the border, and to cooperate with the officers' instruction when carrying out the health inspection, epidemiological investigations, medical examinations and sample testing. If there is any concealment or evasion of quarantine, individuals will be held legally responsible, said the GAC statement.
The "black code" is regarded as the last COVID-related restriction measure to enter or exit the Chinese mainland, since the requirement of a negative COVID test results was dropped in August.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese mainland launched a quarantine declaration system in January 2020. Currently, Chinese mainland customs requires all travelers to fill out the health declaration on their smartphones, including symptoms such as fever and fatigue, travel history in the past 14 days, and the transportation used for entry or exit. After completing the declaration, travelers' information will generate a QR code, which is mandatory for entry or exit. Starting from Wednesday, this declaration will be canceled, and the entry or exit process will be returned to the pre-COVID pandemic procedures.
John Lee, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said on Tuesday that the HKSAR government had presented suggestions on border checkpoint management and welcomed any measures that streamline the process of cross-boundary travels.
The cancellation of health declaration will be a major convenience for those who regularly travel between the mainland and the HKSAR, especially as Hong Kong residents travelling north for weekends or holidays have become a norm since the borders fully reopened after the pandemic. Immigration figures showed that more than 459,000 Hong Kong residents had travelled north using land checkpoints over the weekend, South China Morning Post reported.
Edward Lau Kwok-fan, a member of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR, said that during the recent Double Ninth Festival holidays, a large number of Hong Kong residents traveled to the Chinese mainland, causing congestion at checkpoints. He noted that the current pandemic situation is under control and canceling the health code is an appropriate decision.