As Beijing Games draw closer, China moves to cut all air travel between them and the United States

Beginning next week, all flights between the U.S. and China will likely be suspended for several weeks

FILE PHOTO: United Airlines planes are parked at their gates at O'Hare International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2021.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: United Airlines planes are parked at their gates at O'Hare International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

American travelers looking to travel to China better go soon, because they might not get another chance for a while.

Starting on Wednesday, January 19, and likely lasting well into February, all commercial flights from the United States to China will be cancelled or at least suspended due to Chinese aviation regulations, as China hopes to limit any possible COVID-19 outbreak ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The Beijing Games begin in three weeks, and Olympians and other Olympic credentialed personnel will travel to China on special flights reserved for them.

In June 2020 the Civil Aviation Administration of China applied the “circuit breaker” rule to all international flights. The rule states a flight is automatically suspended for two weeks if five or more people test positive for COVID-19 upon landing in China.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “The regulations are an important step to reduce the risk of cross-border spread of the epidemic.”

“The measures are open and fair,” she continued. “For airlines that do not meet the conditions to trigger the circuit breaker, China has never applied relevant measures on them.”

A staff member disinfects the yard of a media hotel inside a closed loop area designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China January 14, 2022. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
A staff member disinfects the yard of a media hotel inside a closed loop area designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China January 14, 2022. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

In the past four weeks, more than one-third of all international flights scheduled to leave for China have been cancelled, as an increasing number of passengers tested positive for COVID-19.

China is taking no chances as the Beijing Games are set to begin February 4. More than 20 million people are on some form of lockdown.

Xi’an, a city of roughly 14 million people, has been on total lockdown since December 23. Residents there cannot leave their home without a negative test for COVID-19.

Foreign spectators, like at the Tokyo 2020 Games, will not be permitted to attend any events of the Winter Olympics.