Anyone wishing to enter the country will have to apply for a new visa at their local Chinese embassy or consulate. The announcement did not say how long this would take.
The number of new domestic infections has slowed to a trickle in recent weeks. While Wuhan, the city previously at the epicenter of the outbreak, remains on lockdown, much of the rest of the country is returning to normal.
There are fears imported cases could lead to a renewed outbreak.
No ‘foreign friends’
Elizabeth Rodewald, an American working in Beijing, said she was stopped by her security guard from entering her own home this week. She said the guard asked if she was Russian and refused to let her pass even after she showed her residential ID card, even though Chinese residents continued to enter freely. She said she had to wait for the manager to arrive before she could go in.
At a Beijing gym popular with expats, managers posted a sign saying “foreign friends” would no longer be allowed to enter, “because of (the) overseas epidemic threshold.” CNN also saw doormen at a bar in Sanlitun, a popular Beijing nightlife area, refusing entry to non-Chinese-looking patrons.
These restrictions are not government backed and enforcement of them appears to not be rigorous.
Some 900,000 foreigners live in China, according to state media, with the largest non-Chinese population in Shanghai. While the government has gradually made it easier for foreigners to apply for permanent residency, as it attempts to attract more overseas talent and investment, the number of foreigners who gain this status is still exceptionally small.
In 2010, when the last census was carried out, there were just 1,448 naturalized citizens in China, a nation of over 1.3 billion people.