The city of Beijing on Sunday announced the lifting of many anti-Covid restrictions, after a month of fear of confinement for the city’s 22 million people.
The city faced an epidemic rebound of Covid-19 in late April with more than 1,900 positive cases, a high figure for China, which pursues a strict Covid zero policy.
To curb the contagion, schools, non-essential shops and public places closed in early May, while restaurants could only do takeaways. Residents, tested daily or almost daily, were encouraged to work from home.
After some easing in recent days, the municipality has announced a gradual return of Beijingers to work from Monday and the reopening of schools on June 13.
From Monday, restaurants will be able to welcome their customers again and public transport will operate normally. A screening test of less than 72 hours will be required in public places.
Call for “vigilance”
Nevertheless, two districts in the capital will maintain the restrictions, said Beijing City, which reported 19 positive cases on Sunday. Health officials also called for “vigilance”, with half of the country’s provinces reporting an outbreak in the past seven days.
China continues to implement a zero Covid health strategy, which includes imposing quarantines and confinements as soon as a few cases appear. This policy has prevented many deaths from the Covid-19, but has dealt a severe blow to businesses, especially since the capitalization of the economic capital Shanghai in April.
After two months of grueling confinement, most of the city’s 25 million people have been able to move freely again since Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands more, however, had to be confined after the discovery of infected people, despite the triumphalism of the official media and the authorities.
The total confinement of the metropolis in early April paralyzed local activity and, in turn, weakened the growth of the world’s second largest economy.
The economic downturn jeopardizes Beijing’s growth target of about 5.5 percent in a politically sensitive year, which is expected to see Xi Jinping reinstated as head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the fall.
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