China: Ningbo Quarantine and the Beijing Olympic Delays
The news from across the globe states that Ningbo’s quarantine is starting up again due to another outbreak that jumped from 1 case to 23. Ningbo Customs has issued a notice that has detailed a business emergency response, with changes to certain customs clearance inspections and operations in lock down. This in turn has created a trucker availability issue connecting Ningbo-Zhoushan port. Beijing’s strict zero-Covid policy has curbed local outbreaks with mass testing, snap lock downs, vigilant surveillance, and extensive quarantines. However due to the omicron variant, Ningbo has seen three partial lockdowns in the space of six months. The heightened restrictions could cause a disruption including short-term delivery and order fulfillment delays. One source says there could be as much as a $4 billion dollar worth of trade delays, from $236 million in integrated circuit boards, to $125 million in clothing.
Meanwhile, Beijing insists that the 2022 Winter Games will not be stopped no matter what, despite the omicron COVID-19 variant and a diplomatic boycott of the Games by a number of western countries. The US will be staging the boycott to protest Chinese human rights abuses, which China has vowed to greet with “firm countermeasures”. While the athletes will continue to compete and have the US’s full support, they will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games.
Though the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo were postponed for a year because of COVID-19, authorities say Beijing organizers have prepared for ‘any possible contingency’ in part by barring any foreign spectators from attending olympics in China, just as they were by Japan, but no decision has been made whether Chinese citizens will be able to buy tickets given the new surge of omicron cases. Beginning in early February, the Winter Olympics mean a variety of closures and restrictions at the airport, Customs, and moving cargo and trucks in the Beijing area. The banning of these items usually also extends to the movement of hazardous materials and chemicals. This could potentially hamper production and delivery schedules down the line.
Concurrent with the Beijing-centric restrictions, Lunar New Year celebrations in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea mean closures of factories and customs offices ranging from a few days to several weeks. During the lead-up to the Lunar New Year, there is already an increase in demand for equipment and space, and carriers blank sailings in the ensuing weeks of the holiday.
Hong Kong and Shenzhen: Airport, seaport, border closures and flight restrictions.
Hong Kong authorities have imposed an even more stringent COVID-19 measures, banning flights from eight countries and closing bars and gyms as the city was on the verge of a fifth wave of COVD infections. As of this past Saturday, passenger flights from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Philippines, France, and India, are banned for two weeks. In addition to banning indoor restaurant dining after 6pm, the government will be shutting down swimming pools, sports centers, bars, clubs, museums, and other venues for at least two weeks. Also sticking to a “Zero-COVID” strategy, Hong Kong has largely isolated itself from the rest of the world with rigid quarantine restrictions.
This in turn, has put a damper on reopening the border between Hong Kong and China, as Shenzhen has also reported two confirmed community cases of COVID-19. The Shenzhen Health Commission said that cases were detected in a routine screening of employees. This is the first the city has reported a local COVID-19 case since the outbreak in May 2020.
The office also urged the city’s airports, highways, railways, and ports to escalate pandemic control measures, barring those with red and yellow health codes from boarding any transport. This in turn may hinder movement of cargo through the area.
As has been the case for the past two years, the news and rules are persistently evolving as the world attempts to manage and navigate the last wave of infections.
We will continue to keep you up to date with COVID-19 policies and make sure that your cargo navigates these evolving restrictions with as little interruption as possible. Customer satisfaction is our ultimate goal, and by virtue of our responsibility to monitor conditions in Asia and around the rest of the world, trust Sobel to identify and alert you to the most important and rapidly-changing conditions which affect your supply chain.