For almost 9 years I have been living and working in Shanghai, China. For the last 6 years I have been working for large German multi-national and have enjoyed building up their technical capability in China.
Back in January, I came to Germany for a 2 week business trip. Little did I know that 5 months on I would still be here. Due to the outbreak of COVID–19 in China earlier this year, my employer initially prohibited all travel to China and then in late March this announcement came:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China National Immigration Administration Announcement on the Temporary Suspension of Entry by Foreign Nationals Holding Valid Chinese Visas or Residence Permits
So where does this leave me? Well, fortunately as a UK national I don’t have any immigration problems with staying in Germany (I have no idea what happens when the Brexit transition period ends). A good friend and colleague has invited me to his home, so I am being well looked after and gaining all the weight I lost in the last 9 years!
Since the announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there has been no further information as to when the borders will be opened again to Foreigners, let alone those of us with residence permits. If I am honest, I have no real idea when I will see my family again.
Earlier this month, the German Chamber of Commerce arranged two Charter flights to China for employees of German companies, one to Tianjin and one to Shanghai. Sadly I was unable to secure a seat on one of these flights, but last week there was an announcement that further Charter flights are being negotiated, but this time the destination would be Qingdao. My employer has applied for a seat and now I am playing the waiting game. Even if I can secure a seat, it is no guarantee that I can return as the Chinese Authorities have to approve the passenger list, and negative COVID–19 tests must be completed before getting on the flight.
As my home is in Shanghai there is a good chance that I will have to quarantine twice, 14 days on arrival in Qingdao, and then for another 14 days when I eventually arrive in Shanghai. So, even if I was to able to fly home today I would still not see my family for another month! This is something I am prepared to endure because there would be definite light at the end of the tunnel, unlike now. Mentally this situation is proving quite challenging, especially now that the amount of work I can effectively do remotely is beginning to dry up which could also lead to other complications with my predicament.
I am extremely grateful to my friend who has welcomed me into his home for the last few months. As well as providing me a comfortable environment to live in, he has also introduced me to the best COVID–19 lockdown hobby of online Whisky tasting!
Here is my family that I miss so much being so far away:
Wish me luck!