The Chinese capital gave conditional indications of a get back to business as usual on Thursday after an unexpected inversion of a hardline pandemic strategy that pounded the world’s second-greatest economy and lighted intriguing fights.
On Wednesday, Beijing’s National Health Commission (NHC) announced a nationwide loosening of its zero-Covid restrictions, which included reducing the scope of mandatory testing, allowing some positive cases to remain in quarantine at home, and putting an end to large-scale lockdowns.
The country’s top health body stated that the shift in tactics was intended to assist the nation in “keeping abreast of the changing times,” which was a significant relaxation of President Xi Jinping’s flagship pandemic policy.
According to an AFP journalist, traffic in the capital, where a surge in cases had forced many to stay at home and prevented businesses and schools from operating, was back to about half its usual intensity on Thursday.
The frequency and scope of PCR testing, which for a long time was a tedious part of life, have been reduced under the new guidelines.
However, despite the fact that the number of testing stations in Beijing has decreased, those that remain are still crowded, and numerous workplaces continue to require negative tests.
I’ve arrived for a test because a worker in my office has tested positive. Chen Min, 28, told AFP, “I hope I haven’t caught Covid.” He was wearing a down jacket.
Others claimed that they had come to take the test because they work in the hospitality and catering sectors, where it is still required.
Zhang Lan, a food delivery driver, stated that he needed to be tested to avoid contaminating customers because “it’s a request from the company.”
Businesses were open at a nearby shopping center, but there were few people there. Guards checked visitors’ health codes, but negative Covid tests were no longer required.
It’s extremely quiet. The manager of a Starbucks stated, “I think people are still afraid to go out.”
Now that the regulations have been relaxed, China is preparing for a wave of infections that could kill more than a million people, according to an earlier estimate.
An AFP reporter observed long lines at one fever clinic in Beijing’s Chaoyang district.
AFP also observed a steady stream of customers entering a local pharmacy for fever and cold medication in another area of the capital.
But we don’t have any of this medicine on hand. Sun Qing, an employee, stated, “We even have no Vitamin C left.”
She added that people had been purchasing the drugs in anticipation of a policy relaxation over the past few days.
Sadly, some of them took far more than they needed. It might be sufficient for a year! She cried out.