China continued to tighten COVID-19 restrictions amid the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant as the country prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics starting in three weeks.
Airline passengers traveling to China through a third point are now being barred from entering the country, The Associated Press reported. Chinese residents, meanwhile, face an uncertain situation if they travel abroad during COVID-19, with authorities saying that if they visit an area that experiences an outbreak, they may not be allowed to reenter China.
Additionally, beginning next week, testing will be implemented by Beijing for children attending international schools, per the AP.
Certain cities have already imposed lockdown measures, including Xi’an. Citywide testing has been implemented in places including Zhuhai and Tianjin, and Zhuhai's residents must have tested negative for COVID-19 and have an adequate excuse in order to leave, the news outlet noted.
Following concerns of passengers later testing positive for COVID-19, tens of U.S.-to-China flights have been canceled by China so far — a move that has been criticized by the Biden administration. At least 70 flights for this year have been canceled by China.
"China’s actions are inconsistent with its obligations under the U.S.-China Air Transport Agreement. We are engaging with the PRC on this and we retain the right to take regulatory measures as appropriate," a Transportation Department spokesperson said in a statement, using an abbreviation for China's official name.
China has also canceled flights from Canada and France.
All of the developments come as Beijing prepares to host the Olympic Winter Games, trying to avoid a similar situation to the one experienced last summer in Tokyo as Japan grappled to curb transmission while holding the 2020 Summer Olympics.