As those protests fizzled out within days amid a heavy police presence, cities and regions across the country began announcing a hodgepodge of easing measures that fueled expectations ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.
Many of the steps taken by individual cities or regions were reflected in the National Health Authority’s list of policy changes.
But the looser curbs have sparked a rush for preventative drugs as some residents, particularly the unvaccinated elderly, feel more vulnerable to the virus.
Authorities across the country have warned of tight supplies and price gouging by retailers in recent days.
“Buy rationally, buy on demand, and don’t blindly stock up,” the Beijing Municipal Food and Drug Administration told the state-owned Beijing Evening News.
In Beijing’s posh Chaoyang district, home to most of the foreign embassies, entertainment venues and corporate headquarters, stores were rapidly running out of some of those drugs, according to one resident.
“Last night, the drugs were already in stock, and now many are out of stock,” said Zhang, a 33-year-old educator, who only mentioned his last name.
“The prevention of epidemics has been lifted… The testing sites for COVID-19 are largely dismantled… So since the number of cases in Chaoyang District is quite high at the moment, it is better to stock up on some medicines,” he said.