Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of G20 nations are meeting on the Indonesian resort island of Bali with strict testing and masking requirements, even though those measures have been widely abandoned in some member countries.
This is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first G20 summit – and only his second trip abroad – since the start of the pandemic as his country continues its zero-COVID lockdown and quarantine policy which are among the strictest in the world.
Other G20 countries have various measures and social conventions in place for the coronavirus, which has so far infected 631 million people worldwide and killed nearly 6.6 million, although vaccines have slowed considerably Death rate.
Below is an overview of the summit protocols and some of the divergent approaches to COVID-19 among G20 countries.
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What are the Summit’s Covid policies?
Indonesia, which holds the G20 presidency, has strict protocols in place, including mask mandates, body temperature checks, antigen testing and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) swabs, to prevent the risk of spreading the virus.
The Nusa Dua district hosts the summit and has been in lockdown since November 11 and will remain so until November 17.
Four mini intensive care units, 23 clinics and 13 “mobile medical teams” will be deployed during the summit, including more than 400 medical personnel.
Seven hospitals, with a total of 1,350 beds, have been designated to accommodate summit attendees who may need to be isolated for COVID-19. The navy vessel KRI Wahidin Sudirohusodo will also be deployed off Nusa Dua as a “floating hospital”.
China is maintaining one of the strictest COVID restrictions in the world, but on Friday eased some measures, including shortening quarantines for close contacts of infected people and for inbound travelers and removing a penalty for airlines for having introduces too many cases.
Under the new rules, quarantine times at centralized sites for close contacts and travelers from overseas are shortened from seven to five days.
China will also stop trying to identify “secondary” contacts while identifying close contacts.
In Japan, most people on the streets continue to wear face masks, despite the government advising them to stop doing so outdoors. Most public places and transport still ask people to wear a face mask
The country in March lifted near-emergency restrictions imposed on Tokyo and 17 other prefectures centered on limiting the opening hours of restaurants and other businesses, as new infections had dropped significantly.
Japan, which has some of the toughest pandemic border measures among major economies, said in August it could lift requirements for pre-departure COVID-19 testing for travelers and raise daily caps for inbound.
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Almost all COVID rules in the United States have been relaxed, and recommendations from the United States Centers for Disease Control have relaxed the suggested measures. US states and major cities no longer require masks to be worn in transit centers. Few requirements remain for people to show proof of vaccination or negative tests, but with some exceptions for schools, universities and healthcare workers.
The CDC recommends that people on public transportation and in transportation hubs wear masks, but this is no longer required by airlines or in federal buildings. In June, it canceled the requirement for people arriving in the country by plane to test negative for COVID-19. But most overseas visitors arriving by air still need to show proof of a COVID vaccination.
All major restrictions, including work-from-home requirements, expired on March 20, although the wearing of medical-grade masks on public transport and long-distance trains is still required.
Germany eased COVID-19 restrictions in stages, starting by allowing private indoor meetings for those vaccinated or recovered from the virus in February, and ending checks at non-essential stores for proof of vaccination or a negative test.
From March, it increased the maximum size allowed for outdoor events to 25,000 people and nightclubs reopened for recipients of three doses of vaccine or two doses of vaccine plus a negative COVID test.
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Argentina, among the countries with the most deaths per capita in the world, along with its Latin American neighbors, has relaxed strict border controls, allowed more commercial activities and lifted the mandate for outdoor masks, although it recommends their use indoors.
South Africa, which has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths on the African continent, said in June it had repealed COVID-19 rules that made masks compulsory in indoor public spaces, limited the size of gatherings and imposed entry requirements at its borders.
India began easing movement restrictions in the middle of last year to allow more businesses to operate. International travel arrangements are now largely at the pre-pandemic level.
India eased its rules on testing, quarantine and hospital admissions in January to free up resources for its most needy people, but still recommends social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks. Mask rules vary from state to state.
Mandatory testing for contacts of confirmed cases was dropped earlier this year unless they were elderly or battling other conditions, and the isolation period was cut in half to one week. Hospitals have been told to only care for seriously ill people.
Turkey eased the majority of its coronavirus curbs in March, nearly two years after its first case was identified, and lifted its longstanding indoor mask mandate in May.
Health officials said in March that the fight against the disease would be at the individual level rather than society-wide and that people without symptoms would not be tested.