First flight of returning European employees lands in China
May 29, 2020. (AFP/Yann Schreiber)
A Lufthansa plane carrying around 200 mainly German workers landed in China on Saturday, marking the first return of Europeans since the country suspended visas over the coronavirus.
China drastically cut international flight routes in late March and imposed a entry ban on most foreigners — including those with valid residence visas.
The move underlined its fears over imported coronavirus cases and a second wave of infections as the virus epicenter shifted beyond China, where the deadly pathogen was first reported late last year.
Many workers found themselves stranded abroad and unable to return after leaving China at the height of the epidemic.
Lufthansa’s flight from Frankfurt landed shortly before noon at Tianjin airport, southeast of Beijing, the German flag-carrier said.
The group, made up of employees of German companies and their families, were tested for COVID-19 after they landed and will have to quarantine for two weeks.
“We did not know if this plane would leave or not” until the last minute, said passenger Alexander Ophoven before takeoff.
A second aircraft — reserved for people whose who need to be in China for economic, commercial, scientific or technological purposes, or for urgent humanitarian reasons — is scheduled to depart from Frankfurt for Shanghai on June 3.
There are more than 5,000 German companies operating in China, according to the local German Chamber of Commerce.
Two months after closing its borders, China is beginning to lift restrictions on foreigners.
Beijing announced on Friday that some Singapore nationals will be allowed to return from early June. They will only be allowed entry into six cities and provinces initially, including Shanghai.
The number of international flights between China and the rest of the world will increase from 134 to 407 per week as of Monday, according to the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration.
Greece to test visitors from airports on EU high-risk list
Athens / Sun, May 31, 2020 / 01:05 pm
People visit the Pnyx Hill in Athens overlooking the ancient Acropolis on May 29, 2020 as Greece eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus). (AFP/Louisa Gouliamaki)
Greece said on Saturday it will conduct coronavirus tests on visitors arriving from airports deemed high-risk by the European Union’s aviation safety agency EASA when it opens its airports to tourism traffic on June 15.
EASA regularly updates a list of airports located in affected areas with high risk of transmission of the COVID-19 infection, which include 13 in the United Kingdom, all those in 22 US states and those in the Ile de France region surrounding Paris.
“If you originate from an airport on the EASA affected area list, then you will be tested upon arrival,” the ministry of foreign affairs said in an announcement, adding that movement restrictions will also apply.
“If the test is negative, then the passenger self-quarantines for 7 days. If the test is positive, the passenger is quarantined under supervision for 14 days.”
Visitors arriving from other areas will be randomly tested upon arrival. Greece released a first list of 29 countries it considered safe on Friday and said it would be reviewed again before July 1, depending on the evolving situation.
The Mediterranean nation, which emerged from a decade-long debt crisis in late 2018, relies heavily on tourism – about 20 percent of its output – for its economic recovery.
A nationwide lockdown imposed in March helped Greece contain the spread of infections to just below 3,000 cases, a relatively low number compared with elsewhere in the European Union. But it brought the tourism sector to a virtual standstill.
Greece’s economy is seen contracting by up to 10 percent this year.