Beijing to Loosen More Virus Curbs on Monday

Beijing will continue to roll back its Covid-19 restrictions on Monday, as China’s capital eyes a return to normality after declaring at the end of last month that the latest outbreak of the virus was under control.

The city will resume public transport in most districts, except Fengtai and some parts of Changping, allowing workers to return to their offices and restaurants to restart dine-in services, the local authorities said in a statement on Sunday.

The loosening comes after officials said on Friday that the city had achieved zero new community cases in 13 out of 16 districts for seven consecutive days, a key threshold for unwinding the curbs. China’s rigid Covid Zero strategy has brought the recent outbreaks in megacities like Shanghai and Beijing under control — although in the case of Shanghai that involved a punishing two-month lockdown — and authorities have warned that the risk of a resurgence remains.

Beijing said that scenic areas, parks and entertainment facilities like cinemas will open for business in most areas from Monday, with maximum capacity capped at 75%. Residents are allowed to move about freely as long as they have a negative Covid test result within the prior 72 hours. The previous requirement was 48 hours.

Schools will reopen gradually, with middle schools and elementary schools resuming in-person classes from June 13, and kindergartens from June 20, according to the statement.

China reported a total of 88 local infections and asymptomatic cases on Saturday, with 19 from Beijing and 22 from Shanghai, according to the National Health Commission. The capital reported five local cases by 3 p.m. on Sunday and all infections were found in quarantine, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The outbreak overall has been trending down steadily, but prevention remains “complicated” with new clusters emerging in Inner Mongolia and other areas, Lei Zhenglong, an official at the National Health Commission, said at a briefing on Sunday.

While sticking to the “dynamic zero” policy, Lei said local governments should strike a more efficient balance between Covid control and economic development.

The measures to control Covid spread should be more targeted, Lei said, adding that local authorities mustn’t arbitrarily ratchet up restrictions, including by not shuttering venues essential for normal production and life in low-risk areas.

In Shanghai, the world’s largest port recovered somewhat last month from the low level of activity in April, but the lockdown of the city for most of the month still cut operations.

The port processed 3.4 million twenty-foot containers in May, 10% less than a year earlier but an increase from April, according to data published Sunday on the website of Shanghai International Port Group. The facility dealt with 37 million tons of cargo in the month, down 22% from May 2021.

Source: Bloomberg

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