'He thinks his grandparents live in a camera' - Boy to meet grandparents as Covid restrictions end

  • Words and video report by Will Tullis, ITV News, discussing three-year-old Elliot, from Jersey, who has never met his Chinese grandparents

Three-year-old Elliot hasn't yet met his Chinese grandparents.

He was born in Jersey in December 2019 just as Covid was taking hold in China.

Restrictions on travellers entering the East Asian country have since been in place - for almost as long as Elliot's been alive.

But on Sunday (8 January) most Covid rules for travellers were lifted and the borders took another step towards reopening after three long years.

This means Elliot will finally get to meet his grandparents and cousins for the first time later this year.

An end to restrictions means his family is planning their first trip to the country since 2018.

"I'm really excited," said his mum Briony - who runs the Think Chinese language school in St Helier- told ITV News.

"I haven't seen my family for a long time and throughout Covid the only way I could get in touch with them is via video chat", she added.

"It will be quite emotional. I think my son will be in shock because he thinks his grandparents live in the camera."

  • "He thinks his grandparents live in the camera": Elliot's mum Briony says the three-year-old could meet his Chinese grandparents in person for the first time, now travel restrictions have eased.

Jingjing Shi is another of Jersey's Chinese community who is planning a trip back to China.

She hasn't seen her parents in Shanghai since April 2019.

Jingjing, who has lived in St Helier for ten years, says it's the "little, everyday things" she has missed.

"Just eating breakfast with my parents, going for walks, being physically with them...I miss it all", she told ITV News at her office in St Helier.

"My kids are four years older and they have changed in many ways...I can't wait for my parents to see the ways they've changed."

Today's excitement, however, comes with a tinge of sadness and caution: Jingjing's parents currently have Covid.

There have also been moments in the last four years when they've been ill.

Thousands of miles away in Jersey, Jingjing has - at times - felt helpless.

She said: "The most difficult moments were when my parents were not well. As a single child of the family I felt quite upset that I couldn't be there just to help them".

  • Jingjing Shi describes the hardest parts of being away from her parents, who live in Shanghai.

Many of China's Covid rules are coming to an end just as a new year begins in the country. Lunar New Year celebrations begin in the country this month.

Millions of Chinese people will travel across the country as part of this, in what is known as "The Great Migration" - the largest annual human migration in the world.

Amidst the jubilation and excitement many in China are feeling at being able to travel and see their families, others remain wary.

Covid rates are on the rise in the country and in Henan - one of China's most populous provinces - 90% of its 99.4 million population are currently infected with Covid.

As tantalisingly close as a family reunion may be, Jingjing will only travel when the time is right.

"Obviously we don't want to jump into it [and go back to China] when everyone's having or experiencing Covid. So.a few months down the line is going to be realistic I think", she said.

In two weeks, a new year begins in China.

For Elliot, Briony, Jingjing and countless others, the Year of the Rabbit will certainly be a year to remember.