In the first week of February, all Schengen Member Countries except France halted Schengen Visa applications and issuance of Schengen Visas to Chinese nationals due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in January. The outbreak initially started in Wuhan, China, and the city is still the most affected in the world by the virus.
On 24 February 2020, several Schengen Member States were set to reopen some of their visa centers in China, while leaving others closed indefinitely. No Schengen member state has reopened their visa centers in Wuhan yet.
Germany, Iceland, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland are the first five Schengen members to reopen the majority of their visa centers in China.
10 of Germany’s visa application centers in China including those in Beijing, Jinan, Changsha, Shenyang, Shanghai, Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Fuzhou have already started operating normally.
Despite normal operations having been continued, Germany has warned applicants via a notice to take safety measures. The warning comes as at the request of the Chinese authorities.
“As per the request from the Chinese authorities and to ensure your health safety, please wear masks and strictly follow the measures introduced by the building management and the Visa Application Centers. At each Visa Application Center, please keep a minimum distance of 1 meter to other customers, allow body temperature measurements and fill in the information sheets at the reception,” the notice reads.
Iceland and Portugal are requiring visa applicants to follow the same rules as Germany.
Iceland has opened all its visa centers except the ones located in Wuhan. Portugal’s Visa Application Centers in Wuhan, Changsha, Chongqing, Xi’an, Hangzhou and Nanjing will remain closed. The visa centers’ re-opening still remains subject to further notification and approval from Chinese authorities.
As of 17 February 2020, Switzerland reopened its Visa Application Center in Beijing to provide certain business services. The center is accepting applications by appointment only.
Sweden has also reopened some visa centers in China. The country has advised travelers to have their quarantine certification or Health QR code on their person if they are coming to or returning from Shanghai, Hubei, and other key areas. The quarantine certification shows that they have spent 14 days in observation from the date of their arrival to ensure they are not affected by the virus. As of 01 March 2020, the coronavirus has infected 88,341 people and resulted in the deaths of 3,001 worldwide so far. China leads the any other country by far in number of infections and deaths. The spread is expected to continue despite health organizations worldwide working to contain it.