Corona: European Business community concerned

Beijing – Since 11th June, Beijing faced a fresh outbreak of COVID-19, with over 100 confirmed cases reported so far. The outbreak response has so far been centred on the Xinfadi wholesale market in Southwest Beijing’s Fengtai District. The authorities have since raised the risk level of some communities in Fengtai and scaled up some of the public health restrictions that had been steadily relaxed over the last several months since the original outbreak was largely resolved.

The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in Beijing has raised significant concerns for the European business community. In response, the European Chamber has compiled the below background and stance on the outbreak, as well as practical recommendations for members that are weighing the value and risk of business travel in and out of Beijing.

Considerations for European companies

The impact and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing continues to develop. Individual members, either with operations in Beijing or that need to move personnel into and out of the jurisdiction, will need to evaluate the situation themselves and make decisions according to ongoing changes to travel restrictions imposed by the government.

The European Chamber has noted that throughout the pandemic, the time between changes to regulations governing the movement of people across jurisdictions in China being publicly announced and their actual implementation has been extremely short. These include the following:

  • On the evening of 15th March, the Beijing authorities announced that people on incoming international flights would be subject to mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days. Implementation began hours later at 00:00 on 16th March.
  • Late in the evening of the 26th March, China’s authorities announced that the border would close to all non-PRC citizens, with only a few exceptions. Implementation began   at 00:00 on 28th March.
  • For an extended period throughout March and April, Beijing was effectively closed off from the rest of China, with anyone entering the city from another part of China required to undergo 14-day hotel quarantine. On 29th April, the Beijing authorities announced that Beijing would open back up to allow people in and out of the city without mandated quarantine. Implementation began at 0:00 30th April.

The European Chamber therefore encourages member companies to consider the potential risks of business travel in and out of the city, as further tightening could be announced and then implemented within a very short window. Considering that Beijing previously required a 14-day quarantine period for arrivals from the rest of China from mid-February to the end of April, the potential costs of personnel getting caught on the wrong side of the ‘border’ could be significant and long-lasting. 

Members can find the newest info on official travel policies in the following link, which the Chamber will update on a more regular basis now that restrictions are tightening once again. Check Travel Policy.


The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China recognises the transparency displayed in reporting the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing and other areas of China. This level of openness is expected to continue in the interests of containing new cases as quickly as possible. European business expects that the origins of the outbreak be scientifically confirmed with all information made publicly available so that its source can be verified and appropriate actions taken.

With the possibility of further outbreaks likely for the foreseeable future, both in China and elsewhere, European businesses in China are incorporating this new risk potential into their planning.

Because China has gained a great deal of experience managing the original outbreak, European companies anticipate that the government now has more precise mechanisms to mitigate this occurrence of COVID-19. It will require a pragmatic approach, ensuring consistent policy implementation nationwide, to guarantee that trade and investment continues to flow. Ideally, this will be done through an outbreak response framework with pre-established and transparent measures that can be escalated or deescalated as needed. Doing so would allow companies to create their own protocols to respond to the regulatory, and health and safety requirements put in place.

The European Chamber expects that this outbreak will have a comparatively lower impact on business and normal life, while also not disrupting ongoing efforts to establish pathways for the many foreign residents and their families stuck outside of the country since March to return home to China.

“Being prepared for, and managing, fresh COVID-19 outbreaks is the new business reality for our members, who must find ways to adapt and evolve,” said Jörg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China. “To do so, they require continued transparency in government communication, and will be relying on a proportionate policy response from China that will maximise public health and safety while minimising the economic toll.” (European Chamber)