The EU strongly recommends vacationers from China to take a Covid check earlier than getting into Europe

European nations are considering new travel requirements from China after Beijing lifted Covid restrictions.

China news service | China news service | Getty Images

European nations on Wednesday recommended imposing new restrictions on travelers from China amid fears of a surge in Covid cases.

Passengers departing from China will likely need to present a negative Covid test before leaving the country if traveling to any of the 27 EU countries. They will also likely be asked to wear face masks during flights and may be subject to random testing upon arrival.

“Member states have agreed on a coordinated preparedness approach in light of developments of Covid-19 in China,” read a statement released on Wednesday after a meeting of EU officials lasting several hours.

Health policy is the responsibility of individual governments. It is up to the different capitals to decide whether to follow the EU recommendations. Several EU countries have already stepped up their protective measures against potential new cases from China.

Officials in China have criticized recently imposed testing requirements for travelers from the country and threatened mutual countermeasures. China currently requires foreign visitors to present a negative Covid-19 test before entering the country and to quarantine for eight days upon arrival. Beijing is aiming to lift the lockdown next weekend but will continue to require overseas visitors to provide proof of negative Covid-19 tests. In December it also said it would resume issuing visas to residents for foreign travel.

The US, India, UK, Japan and Australia have all announced stricter measures for travelers from China to prevent a surge in Covid cases.

Italy was among the first EU nations to take action after Beijing abruptly abandoned strict measures in place during much of the pandemic.

Rome, one of the countries in Europe hardest hit by the pandemic, ordered compulsory tests last week. France and Spain had also taken similar positions.

The latest move by the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, aims to coordinate rules across the region.

In late December, Chinese authorities said they would resume issuing visas to residents for overseas travel. They also said travelers arriving in China would no longer need to quarantine.

However, China has seen an increase in Covid infections since November and there are concerns about the vaccination levels of its population. The country has nine domestically developed vaccines, according to Reuters, but they have not been updated for the Omicron variant, which is considered highly contagious.

European authorities have offered to send vaccines to China, but Beijing has yet to respond, according to a European Commission spokesman.

The Commission spokesman told CNBC that the EU, through its delegation in Beijing, had made efforts to “offer solidarity and support, including through sharing public health expertise and variant-matched EU vaccine donations.”

Asked Tuesday about Europe’s offer to provide Covid vaccines, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning replied: “China has the world’s largest Covid vaccine production lines, with an annual production capacity of over 7 billion doses and annual output of over 5.5 billion doses, covering the need to ensure everyone who is eligible for vaccination has access to Covid vaccines.”

“China’s Covid situation is predictable and under control,” she added.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that European officials on Wednesday recommended testing travelers from China before flying.

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