Beijing bans restaurants as holidays begin in zero-Covid crackdown | China
Beijing restaurants will temporarily ban dining and residents will need negative Covid tests to visit public spaces, officials said on Saturday, amid a major step up in virus checks at the start of the Labor Day holiday .
The five-day break is typically one of China’s busiest travel periods, but the country’s worst Covid resurgence since the pandemic began is expected to keep people at home.
Faced with the highly transmissible variant of Omicron, Chinese authorities doubled down on their zero-Covid policy, nullifying virus clusters through mass testing and lockdowns.
Despite mounting economic costs and public frustration, the capital has announced it will further restrict access to public spaces during and after the holiday season.
From May 1 to 4, restaurants in the city will stop eating in and only allow deliveries, local commerce official Ding Jianhua said in a press briefing on Saturday.
Authorities also said they had so far prepared 4,000 makeshift hospital beds – usually used for patients with mild or no Covid symptoms – and were accelerating the establishment of larger quarantine sites.
A negative Covid test taken within the past week will also be required from May 5 to enter “all kinds of public spaces and take public transport”, according to a notice on Beijing’s official WeChat page.
For activities such as sporting events and group travel, participants will also need to show a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours, as well as proof of full vaccination, under the new rules.
China reported more than 10,700 domestic Covid cases on Saturday, most of them in the country’s economic powerhouse, Shanghai.
The eastern metropolis was locked down for about a month after becoming the center of the latest outbreak.
Cases are trending down, but frustration and anger are rising in the city of 25million where many have been ordered to stay home for several weeks.
Shanghai officials said on Saturday its new cases were all found among quarantined or restricted groups – signaling that community infections may be slowing.
They added that hundreds of companies on a “whitelist” had returned to work, with around 1,000 companies also allowed to restart operations, state media said.
In Beijing, cases have risen to 54, according to the national health commission.
At the start of the long holiday, consumers in the capital were asked to show proof of negative Covid tests – within 48 hours – to enter public spaces such as malls, shops and scenic spots.
The city will make free Covid tests for residents starting Tuesday, authorities said.