Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Beijing and Shanghai lift restrictions against COVID

BEIJING ( Associated Press) — Shoppers returned to shopping malls in Beijing on Saturday after the Chinese capital eased pandemic restrictions, declaring a small but persistent outbreak of COVID-19 under control.

The partial reopening of shops and offices in Beijing was welcomed by a tired population and anxious shopkeepers eager to get back to normal. Accompanied by a gradual lifting of restrictions in Shanghai, it indicated that the worst was over for outbreaks in China’s two major cities.

The quarantines and other restrictions of the Chinese “zero COVID” strategy have increasingly frustrated the population, who are frustrated as other countries lift measures and reopen borders. Some have resisted and staged protests in apartment complexes and college dorms, in an authoritarian country where people think twice about protesting in public because of the potential repercussions.

Restaurants remained closed in Beijing except for delivery and takeaway services, and many people in Shanghai were able to go out only with special, limited-time passes, though the number of new cases has plummeted. The authorities tend to prefer an excess of caution, in a system that does not hesitate to punish them for negligence if the outbreaks reactivate or restart.

China registered 293 new cases on Saturday, of which 78 were people arriving from abroad. Shanghai had the highest number of non-imported cases, with 122, and Beijing had 21. The two cities have more than 20 million people.

Beijing allowed public parks, gyms and movie theaters to reopen at 50% capacity on Sunday. A section of the Great Wall in rural Beijing, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the center, reopened to the public on Monday.

Xu Hejian, a city spokesman, said on Saturday that although sporadic cases were still detected, they were manageable. “This wave of the outbreak is under effective control,” he said.

Nation World News Desk
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