Coronavirus Travel Information in China

Coronavirus Travel Information: Life on the Ground in China

February 3, 2020 – Written by the Lost Plate Team in Beijing

We’ve received a lot of questions about the current coronavirus situation in China. Travel advisories & restrictions are in place, there is extensive global news coverage, and millions of people are in quarantine to stop the spread of the virus. News without context or information can be scary, so our team members in Beijing wanted to show you a glimpse of what life is like on the ground.

This is not meant to be a news source for the virus or travel details. If you are considering travel to China, we recommend for you to follow your local government recommendations.

What life is really like on the ground

Life is quiet. The timing of this epidemic hit during our Chinese New Year holiday period which usually lasts for 7 days. This means that people travel home to spend time with their families and most shops and restaurants are closed for at least a week. This already means that streets are unusually quiet in major cities all over China. Since traveling means that the virus can spread rapidly, the government has extended the public holiday period from Jan 30th to Feb 3rd 2020 (and in some cities even longer).

Many companies, including Lost Plate, are not forcing their employees to come to the office. This means many people are deciding to stay put in their hometown instead of traveling back to the city where they live and work. Wherever you are, community officials visit each apartment to check everyone’s temperature and to see if you have any visitors. In some communities this happens daily, other places it is weekly.

In general, a lot of people are scared. They are scared to travel: they are scared to go outside; they are scared to spend time around strangers. That doesn’t mean everything in China is dangerous or unsafe, it just means that people are taking a high level of precaution to stay safe. We’ve noticed a lot of these precautions in our communities lately, take a look:

Coronavirus Travel Information Elevator Sign

This sign seen on our Training Manager’s elevator says “Please use the tissue when you press the button. Thank you!”

Coronavirus Travel Information Community Notice

In the hutongs of Beijing, we found this community notice outside: “Don’t spread rumors, Wash your hands, Keep the air fresh indoors, Don’t panic, Decrease large gatherings, Stay strong and safe, Believe science.”

Coronavirus Travel Information Street Sign

This sign found on a local Beijing street says “All people returning to Beijing must register here. Thank you for your cooperation.”

While they may seem a bit extreme, the precautions that have been put in place by individuals and the government are there to stop the spread of the virus. The key thing to remember is that they are precautions to slow and stop the spread. It doesn’t mean it has already spread and that we are all sick. The vast majority of people, like us, are safe and healthy.

Tour Schedules (China Only)

Lost Plate has canceled our food tours in China through February. That may be extended based on global travel limitations and foreign government recommendations. As soon as people are ready to start traveling to China again, we’ll be ready!

Regarding general travel, all tourist attractions and destinations remain closed indefinitely. Many hotels are not accepting guests. Many family-run restaurants (like those that we visit on our tour) and shops are not open because the owners are either still at home or don’t want to risk being in contact with a lot of people. Big businesses like Starbucks and Apple have closed many of their stores. It’s a bit too soon to tell how long this will last and what the full impact will be.

What we do know is that now is not a good time to visit. Not because it means you will get sick, but because everything for tourists is closed and most international carriers have suspended or cut back their services to China.

So when should you consider traveling to China again? The answer is actually quite easy; as soon as there are things to do! When flights are flying, tourist attractions are open, and Lost Plate Food Tours are running then you’re good to go.


There are a lot of news and resources available, and we don’t want to contribute more to the noise. However, these informative sites are interesting and helpful:

This real-time dashboard shows how many people around the world are infected and where they are located.

This Chinese site allows you to enter your train or flight number to see if you have traveled with someone infected with the virus. Although it’s all in Chinese it’s very intuitive to use.

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