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Two Weeks in Quarantine: What Awaits Business Travelers to China

With very few new COVID-19 cases now being reported in China, it’s now back to business as usual in the country. Or, at least, almost usual.

While there are almost no restrictions on domestic travel, and in-person meetings and events are taking place almost as normal, entry into the country still remains a challenge. That message was reinforced recently as the Shanghai government announced that all visitors from outside the country planning to attend next month’s China International Import Expo will need to undergo a 14-day centralized quarantine upon arrival to the country.

Following a six-month closure of its borders to foreign nationals, China did last month allow foreigners with valid resident permits to begin returning to the country for purposes of work and family reunion. Given the 14-day quarantine, however, it means that those foreign nationals coming back now are almost exclusively long-term residents of the country and are planning to be in China for months. Short business trips remain unlikely for the foreseeable future.

Several of PRI’s team recently re-entered China and gave us an eyes-on-the-ground look into the returning to China and quarantine experience.

Pre-Departure and Flight

One challenge facing many looking to get back to China now is the limited availability of flights and the resulting sky-high ticket prices. For example, Delta and United are the two U.S. based carriers flying to China now and their one-way ticket prices for Economy class have been approaching $4,000 for the past several months.

Many have seen their flights cancelled multiple times. To best avoid that, it’s important to check the potential flight you’re set to buy with a list of the flights actually permitted by China at the moment.

While a valid visa and flight ticket would be enough in normal times, you’ll also need a negative COVID-19 test report issued within the past three days and a health declaration form certified and stamped by the local Chinese embassy in your country in order to board your plane.

The flight experience itself depends greatly on if you fly a Chinese carrier or that of another nation. For Chinese airlines, the flight attendants are dressed in full body personal protective equipment and in lieu of meal service, a bag of snacks is distributed to each passenger upon boarding in order to reduce contact with the airline staff. On European airlines, however, it was our experience that things were more normal with flights attendants using masks instead of the full body suits and hot meals still being served, albeit as part of a reduced menu.

Airport and Hotel Arrival

Upon arrival at the airport in China, there is a crew of what seems to be close to 100 health and safety personnel standing by to help you through the various procedures necessary in the COVID-19 world. Passengers will be required to fill out an online Customs Health Declaration Form, accessible through the ubiquitous WeChat, as well as a short survey on potential contacts with COVID-19 positive cases or trips to public places in the last 14 days. There is also a mandatory COVID-19 test done at the airport – depending on the city, it may be a nasal swab, throat swab or both.

After completing all the procedures and the normal immigration and customs checks, passengers are loaded on to buses and taken to a hotel chosen by the local health authorities. Luggage is sprayed with disinfectant and travelers are given keys to their hotel rooms, which will become their new home for the next 14 days. Depending upon the hotel’s polices and the local health department’s regulations, couples and families may or may not be allowed to stay together in one room – experiences have varied greatly here.

The Quarantine

From there, you’ll spend the next two weeks in the hotel room, only opening the door three times a day to retrieve meals from the stool outside your door or to place trash in the same place.

Hotels also provide the food for the entirety of the quarantine – while some hotels also allow you to order delivery from outside restaurants, many do not.

From there, you’ll spend the next two weeks in the hotel room, only opening the door three times a day to retrieve meals from the stool outside your door or to place trash in the same place.

Throughout the two weeks, your temperature will be recorded twice per day – in some locations, you self report via a WeChat group after using a thermometer in the room while in others, health and safety personnel come to your door to take your temperature. Those reporting a fever will be taken to a local medical facility for additional tests and closer monitoring.

You can also expect to be tested once or twice more during the quarantine. If the tests come back negative, you’ll be allowed to leave after paying your hotel fees (anywhere from $800 to $2,500 USD for the two weeks of room and board) and will be given a document certifying your completion of the quarantine and the negative tests. Some provinces and even local apartment communities are requiring additional home quarantines of 7 to 14 more days after the completion of the centralized hotel quarantine.

How PRI Can Help

Other than a handful of PRI people outside of China at the moment, we’ve got our full staff on the ground. For those who cannot travel to China and are needing some assistance, we are able to help you with onsite engineering, sourcing, and support throughout the country. Our sales team has represented clients at the biggest trade shows and events in China and now is a great time to have representation at these events as China’s economy continues to lead the world in growth.


PRI has an extensive sales network in dozens of industries throughout China and has a strong track-record of helping international clients achieve significant sales growth. PRI provides clients with “hunters” that will help you break into the China market and provides fully managed solutions to build the sales and marketing teams you need to remain close to your customers and accelerate growth.


With experience and resources in dozens of industries in China, PRI can unlock the doors to China’s vast supply chain resources. We help our clients access high-quality, efficient, and cost-effective supply chain solutions. Whether you need full-time sourcing engineers, help with a one-off project, or local currency purchasing power, we can help you achieve your goals. PRI maintains an extensive network of supply chain resources in industries such as Aerospace, Automotive, Medical Device, Telecommunications, Specialty Chemicals, Heating & Combustion, Sensors, Consumer Device, Home Equipment, Factory Automation, Oil & Gas, Power Generation, and more.

Onsite Management

PRI has experience managing overall operations with full P&L responsibility on behalf of owners as well as managing specific outsourced business functions such as HR, strategic sourcing, sales, engineering and facility improvements. PRI has provided fully managed turn-key solutions to more than 40 companies to startup and/or mange operations throughout China, including serving as Interim General Managers.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

To set up a free consultation on your specific China needs with our US and China-based teams, email Jonathan Kendrick at or contact us on our social media pages – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.


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