Epidemic controls for travel agencies updated

Visitors walk through an attraction in a park in Zaozhuang, Shandong province, on Oct 8, 2022. [Photo by Hong Xiaodong/For China Daily]

The central government has updated a series of COVID-19 epidemic control and prevention requirements for travel agencies and entertainment venues to safeguard people”s health and help reduce the effects that the tourism and culture industries have had from the epidemic.

Travel agencies, under a series of new guidelines released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Friday, should organize responsible tours by selecting quality travel service providers and getting precise information on COVID-19 control policies at both the travelers’ departure and arrival sites.

They are not allowed to organize group tours to areas with high infection risks, and not receive travelers coming from such places. Tour groups should be canceled or rescheduled whenever their departure sites are listed as having high infection risks.

According to these guidelines, travel agencies are encouraged to organize small tour groups on the basis of their own operational capability, and plan more scientific travel routes and time schedules to avoid gatherings at destinations or scenic spots.

Travel agencies should prepare sufficient protective supplies including masks, thermometers and hand sanitizer, and store and use these disinfectants correctly.

They should urge coach operators, hotels and restaurants to perform disinfection before and after receiving travelers.

In addition to improving services for travelers, travel agencies are required to enhance the management of their employees such as monitoring their health condition and organizing regular nucleic acid tests. Training on how to deal with emergencies should be given to employees, in addition to lectures on COVID-19 control policies, personal protection and basic medical knowledge, said the guidelines.

According to the culture and tourism ministry, authorities are barred from shutting down internet cafes and other entertainment venues recklessly, and should normalize epidemic control measures for entertainment venues with low infection risks. Entertainment venues with high infection risks should suspend their operations.

Authorities should not limit the number of people attending concerts, music festivals and other performances where no cases have been reported.

“In areas with low infection risks, the local government can limit the audience attending theaters or large-scale performances allowing for practical situations, while commercial performances should be suspended in high-risk areas,” said the guidelines.

The ministry has made continuous efforts to help relieve pressures on travel agencies and culture business operators.

On Tuesday, the ministry eased the restrictions on group tours traveling between provinces, under which people can travel between provinces with negative nucleic acid test results within 48 hours of departure.

A circuit-breaker mechanism has been in place since August last year to suspend cross-provincial group tours whenever the destinations are designated as places with medium or high infection risks for COVID-19.

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