Beijing denies complete reopening amid easing of Covid restrictions
Beijing, Dec 3 (EFE).- Despite an easing of coronavirus restrictions in several cities across China, Beijing’s government on Saturday refuted rumors of a complete opening up.
It said that the epidemic still remained at “a high level” in the city and therefore, could not be “taken lightly.”
The Chinese capital, which is facing its worst-ever Covid-19 outbreak, had announced on Friday that people would no longer be required to show a negative result from a PCR test in order to use public transport.
The authorities also said that hospitals would not be able to refuse entry to patients who do not present a negative nucleic acid test result.
Despite the reopening of several malls, most establishments and public places continue to require a negative PCR test conducted 48 hours prior to entry.
This means residents have to continue to get tested to enter their office or eat in a restaurant but, following a large-scale closure of testing booths, now face long queues due to a reduced number of booths.
Guangzhou, which for weeks has been battling an outbreak that has resulted in thousands of daily new cases, has been gradually easing restrictions since the middle of the week.
“In my district it is no longer necessary to show a negative PCR test result to enter establishments,” a resident told EFE.
The lifting of restrictions came after people living in parts of the city that were under lockdown clashed with police this week.
The record figures being seen in Guangzhou would have, in the past, inevitably led to a widespread lockdown such as those imposed in Wuhan, Shanghai and Xian, among others.
Instead, the city, with a population of over 10 million, has reopened malls, restaurants and public transport services, marking a departure from the policy followed by China for more than two years.
Chinese netizens have even shared videos of the local government’s press conferences in recent days, in which spokespersons and officials remove their masks before the start of the conference, as a sign of a shift from the country’s strict “zero-Covid” policy.
Meanwhile, the neighboring Shenzhen city also announced Saturday that a negative PCR result was no longer mandatory to use public transport or enter parks and tourist attractions.
However, residents will still have to attest through a monitoring application that they have not traveled through an at-risk area.
For over two years, China has clung to its “zero-Covid” policy, which consists of isolating all those infected as well as their close contacts, strict border controls, restrictions on movement and massive PCR test campaigns wherever a case is detected.
According to official figures, 5,233 people have died in China since the start of the pandemic. EFE