China is allowing executives from some foreign companies to enter the country despite a coronavirus travel ban as it seeks to restart the economy, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Ministry of Commerce told some key foreign companies they can apply for exemptions to the entry ban if they want to get executives back into China, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter has not been made public. They would still serve a mandatory quarantine, one of the people said.
The move is the latest sign that China, which has banned almost all foreigners from entering since late March, is taking steps to reopen its borders for business. China has had some success in containing the outbreak, which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan, and businesses such as Shanghai Disneyland reopened on Monday, with health checks and social-distancing measures.
China’s commerce and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to queries.
China and South Korea agreed to simplify entry for essential business travellers from the start of May. The “fast-track” arrangement allows South Korean businesspeople to travel to 10 Chinese provinces and cities after their visas are approved. Health screenings and quarantine procedures remain in place, though the length of quarantine in China is up to two days, compared with the standard 14 days. Chinese travellers to South Korea need to apply for quarantine exemptions and pass health tests.
Some German companies are awaiting feedback after applying for exemptions, one of the people said. One person who got in was Volkswagen AG’s executive vice-president for research and development, Thomas Muller, who entered China from Germany recently, according to Volkswagen.
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