Part of the Great Wall reopens as Beijing and Shanghai ease COVID restrictions

May 29, 2022 — Beijing and Shanghai are gradually easing coronavirus restrictions, signaling that major outbreaks in China’s biggest cities are waning, according to The Associated Press.

New cases have plummeted, with 293 new cases reported Saturday across China. Of these, 78 cases occurred among people who arrived from other countries. Shanghai had the most non-imported cases, with 122, and Beijing had 21.

“This series of epidemics has been effectively contained,” Beijing city government spokesman Xu Hejian said on Saturday.

Sporadic cases are still being found in some districts, he said, but they are still within a controllable range.

Beijing on Sunday allowed libraries, museums, public parks, gymnasiums and cinemas to reopen at 50% capacity, the AP reported. A section of the Great Wall in a rural part of Beijing will reopen to visitors on Monday.

Meanwhile, restaurants remain closed in Beijing except for takeout and delivery. These types of restrictions have frustrated residents and sparked protests against China’s “zero-COVID strategy,” the AP reported.

Shanghai, the country’s commercial hub, reported a sharp decline in economic figures last month as COVID-19 outbreaks led to strict shutdowns. In a bid to support the economy, Shanghai officials announced new rules on Sunday that will come into effect later this week, which will lift some lockdown restrictions and aim to help businesses get back to work, according to Reuters.

From Wednesday, people entering public places or taking public transport will be required to show a negative test taken within 72 hours, instead of the previous requirement of 48 hours, Reuters reported. However, the tests will remain the same for people who wish to leave the city.

In addition, companies will no longer need to apply to resume work. The city government will also get rid of its “whitelist” system that prioritized certain businesses in returning to work, Reuters reported.

Officials also announced an action plan to stimulate the economy, which included 50 policy measures such as asking banks to renew loans to small and medium-sized businesses and accelerating the issuance of local government bonds.

“The current epidemic situation in the city continues to stabilize and improve,” Yin Xin, spokesperson for the Shanghai city government, said Sunday.

The city’s strategy is to “pivot to normalized prevention and control,” Yin said.

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