China eases Covid measures, cutting quarantine and scrapping flight bans

China announced the relaxation of some of its hardline Covid-19 restrictions on Friday, cutting the quarantine period for inbound travellers from 10 days to eight and scrapping snap closures of flight routes.

In a further sign of easing, the National Health Commission said it was abolishing the requirement to identify and isolate "secondary close contacts".

In a notice published on state-run CCTV, the government said the powerful seven-man Politburo Standing Committee met Thursday to rubberstamp the limited relaxations.

Inbound arrivals will still be required to undergo six nucleic acid tests and will not be allowed to freely set foot outside during those eight days, the notice said.

It added that travellers will only be required to show one negative Covid test within 48 hours of boarding flights to China, a reduction from the current two tests.

The new rules single out "important business personnel" and "sports groups" as examples of privileged groups permitted to skip quarantine as long as they remain in a virus-secure "closed loop" for the duration of their stays.

A so-called "circuit breaker" mechanism on inbound flights would be abolished, the notice added, bringing an end to a policy that saw the snap closures of flight routes if a certain proportion of passengers tested positive for the virus.