This is one for any crew who head into China.
What happened in Urumqi?
People in China are angry.
There are currently protests across many major Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. Which is unusual because protests are very frowned upon in China, and generally lead to quite a heavy handed police response.
So when they do protest, you know it is over something they feel strongly about.
They are angry over Covid lockdown rules which saw a 10 people perish in a tower block fire in Urumqi. Questions have been asked over whether residents were allowed to leave their homes, and whether the fire exits were clear.
What does this have to do with crew?
There are two things worth considering if operating into China:
- The security situation
- The hotel room safety situation
The Security Situation
Crew are not allowed out of their quarantine hotels, so the protests themselves will not impact you directly. However, a stricter level of Covid rule compliance might.
Currently, crew are required to don full ‘anti-Covid’ suits on arrival (while still on the aircraft), and are accompanied through airports, bused to hotels, and required to remain within their hotel rooms.
Member Top Tip: “They don’t generally provide big sizes. If you need an XL it might be worth getting your local agent to arrange this, or you’re going to find yourself trussed up like a sausage inside an ‘average”‘sized suit.”
The rules have eased a little, but are still subject to change at short notice, and entry requirements for crew are not always entirely clear. The best people to ask are your local agents at whatever airport you are heading into.
We recommend that you:
- Follow the rules pretty strictly. Easier in the winter months when it is not baking hot (those suits are the worst in the summer). Non-compliance is likely to lead to fines, potentially banning your operator from returning to China, or you may be subject to more quarantine.
- Prepare for lengthy delays in and out of the airport and factor this into your report times.
- Do not vocally criticise in a way that might be perceived as a protest against Chinese law or the government.
But what’s this about hotel room safety?
Some crew have reported that they are not only quarantined in their hotel rooms, but they are locked inside their hotel rooms, unable to open the door from the inside.
This is not safe.
If you or your operator has experienced this, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We might not be able to do anything to help, but we can share the hotel info with other operators so they know about it.
You must be able to unlock your hotel room from the inside in order to evacuate in an emergency. Your hotel room should also be equipped with a smoke mask.
- Checking with the hotel prior to operating in and raising this is a good idea. Doing so once there may prove difficult. Bear in mind, these are generally government selected hotels for crew as well. You don’t get much say in where to stay.
- On arrival, crew should pay particular attention to how to access emergency exits because these hotels tend to have significant ‘plastic coating’ on their interiors, and it may be difficult to locate exits in an emergency.
- If in doubt over your safety, don’t remain in the room because they’ve told you to. Get yourself out and safe, and worry about the repercussions of that afterwards. I’m pretty certain they’ll be less serious than the consequences of staying locked inside a burning hotel!
- Make sure your crew have contact information in case of a medical emergency while in China.
Monitor the food situation
Folk report this is slowly improving.
If you haven’t been, then here’s the deal – basically your hotel is going to provide you with meals. These are usually left in boxes at specific times outside the room, and you’re allowed to open up and take them inside.
There are two issues here:
- They are not always catering to ‘Western’ food preferences.
- There doesn’t appear to be any way to report allergies.
- Chinese good often contains MSG, which you may have an allergy to without knowing.
- They often provide them based on Chinese meal timings, which can be tough with jet lag/sleep plans etc.
Good news is you can get in touch in advance and ensure you request food that your crew can eat, and that it is provided at times they will want to be eating at. Alternatively, recommend crew take their own food with them.
A little note on Customs
China readopted their Health Declaration Measures, since November 16. Make sure you submit the form and download the QR code before heading over. There is an APP for it that makes it handier, and the website is here for all the info you might need.
More on the topic:
- More: New US Rule for China Arrivals
- More: Ops to Taiwan? You’ll have to avoid China
- More: We Need to Talk About China!
- More: South China Sea Dispute: Impact To Ops
- More: Chinese maritime drills might impact flights