Due to present COVID-19 pandemic and international restrictions, many changes have been on-going for foreigners living and working in China. Some foreigners are still here in China, slowly returning back to work. Others are outside of China, waiting for the travel ban to be lifted.
The positive news is that overall, life has largely returned to normal here and looks much different than it did two months ago (you can read my March Coronavirus Update here and see how things have changed).
I even took a trip back to the Great Wall this month, which was really nice (and my 11th trip there!)
There is still a lot of uncertainty about certain issues, like when the border will reopen again and if domestic travel is allowed in China for foreigners.
I recently had a Q&A on Instagram and received many questions about my personal experience and what China is like right now. I’ll answer the questions I can here, and also link to some resources that can help answer questions that I can’t. *This is based on my personal experiences in Beijing, as there are different rules and restrictions in other cities and companies in China.
- What resources do you use to find information?
- When will the borders open again?
- Have you returned to work? Are many people back at work now?
- Is wearing a mask still required?
- Can you travel domestically in China right now?
- What is Beijing like right now?
- Have you faced discrimination as a foreigner in China?
- Looking for a job in China?
- Other Questions
1. Information & Resources
If you’re looking for more information, I recommend you follow these Wechat accounts/websites. They share up-to-date information about employment, visa questions, legal information, travel advice, and more for the current coronavirus situation.
2. When will the China borders open again for tourists, students, and foreigners who work here?
No one knows for sure. Some news articles have projected the borders will not until October: International Flight Restrictions Expected to Continue Until October.
3. Have you returned to work?
Yes, after working from home since the beginning of February we received news that it was okay to work in our office again. I returned to work in the office last week (May 18).
We needed to register with the building to show we have been in China the entire time, and also show the Wechat Health Kit app when we walk in. Everyday we get our temperature taken to go inside the building, and we have to sit every-other at desks and keep a distance while we work. Our company gives us two new masks everyday when we sign in, which is nice as well.
As for other people in China returning to work, it depends on your company and city. Many people who work in office buildings here in Beijing have returned to work like I have. Most teachers I know are still working remotely online, but there are some plans for many to return to the classroom in June.
4. Are masks still required?
There was news recently that masks are no longer required to be worn while outside, but many places still require you wear one inside like on the metro, in certain shops and restaurants, etc. The restrictions have become looser though, and you will see some people not wearing one. It’s smart to still carry masks with you when you go out,
5. Can you travel domestically in China right now?
The short answer is: yes, you can travel domestically within China.
The long answer is: it’s up to you and the risks you want to take.
Right now we use the Health Kit app from the government to confirm if we are healthy. You need to show this Health Kit app to restaurants, malls, shops, and business places when you go inside.
Unfortunately I’ve heard from some people that there are glitches with the Health Kit app for foreigners right now, and that if you travel outside your city then your Health Kit app will mess up when you return and you will have to wait 14 days for it to turn green again. This severely limits where you can go in your city.
But, other people have also said that travel is fine and their Health Kit apps worked like normal. I’ve had some friends take trains around China again and returned with no problems. So it’s a bit of a gamble, but I think most people are ready to travel again and willing to take the risk (I know I’m ready to!)
As for as travel rules concerning health checks in cities, checking in with hotels, and what tests you need to show when you travel on trains and planes, read this for more information: Can I Travel? What to Know About Traveling Within China Right Now.
This article was published a month ago so some of these details may have changed. Before you plan a trip, I would confirm your tickets and hotel bookings and make sure it’s okay for foreigners to stay there.
6. What is Beijing like at the moment?
Beijing has largely returned to normal, and has been for more than a month. Restaurants and shops are all open, public transportation is crowded again, and people are out and about.
I’ve been going to work, seeing friends, going to parks, and eating so much Chinese food. I even went to the Great Wall again this month.
7. Have you felt discrimination as a foreigner?
Personally, I haven’t had any situations or felt discriminated against.
But in China yes, there have been many instances of foreigner discrimination, especially in Guangzhou: Africans in Beijing Share Mixed Feelings as Discrimination in Guangzhou Intensifies.
Some friends in Beijing told me about a few instances they faced in April. They said a few Chinese businesses refused to give them service at restaurants or businesses because they were foreigners. Another friend said when they sat on the subway that other people moved away from them. I haven’t heard of more recent situations, so hopefully it’s occurring less. In Beijing there was also some upset when popular expat restaurants QMex and El Nido had discrimination occurences with foreigners.
I love living in China and have always felt at home and so welcomed here. Just like any country, there will be people who are rude and will react negatively to certain situations, but I don’t believe at all that it is a reflection of all the people here.
8. Looking for jobs in China
I received lots of questions about looking for teaching jobs in China. Due to the present situation, there is actually a huge demand for English teachers to be hired in China, especially if you are already in China looking for a new job. If you are outside of China at the moment, you can still search for jobs and begin your application process. Online teaching is also a great option at the moment.
There are many kinds of teaching positions available in China. It depends on the type of school you want to work for and where you want to live. You will also need a TEFL, Bachelor Degree, and to be a Native English Speaker.
*Read more about How To Find a School To Teach At in China
I taught for 3 years in China and loved it. If you’re ready to start applying for jobs, check out Career China for available job opportunities and to speak with a career consultant.
7. Other Questions About China
I had so many other questions about China, some related to COVID-19 and others just general inquiries about living and working here. Here are some of my top articles about my experiences here:
- About Rachel Meets China
- Living in Beijing vs. Guangzhou
- A Typical ESL Lesson For Young Learners In China
- 25 Best Things To Do In Beijing