China’s Beijing eases COVID curbs after rare protests

Authorities in the Chinese capital will no longer require a negative COVID test to enter supermarkets and commercial buildings.

China’s capital Beijing no longer requires a negative COVID-19 test to enter supermarkets and commercial buildings, local authorities have said in the latest easing of the country’s harsh “zero COVID” strategy following rare protests.

Residents will still need to provide a negative test result to enter other locations, including schools, bars, karaoke lounges, internet cafes, indoor gyms and nursing homes.

The easing of restrictions comes after at least a dozen cities across China eased COVID-19 restrictions in recent days following the biggest display of civil disobedience in decades last month.

The protests, which have spread across more than 20 Chinese cities, began on November 25 amid claims that COVID curbs in far western Xinjiang had contributed to the death toll of an apartment building fire that killed at least 10 people . Authorities denied that the lockdowns trapped the victims or hindered rescue efforts.

Shanghai, China’s largest city, became the latest metropolis on Sunday to scrap tests for public transportation and outdoor spaces such as parks and tourist attractions, following similar moves from Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Tianjin.

While Beijing has taken steps to ease some restrictions and paint newer variants of the coronavirus as less severe, it has yet to say when the country can fully reopen and resume normal life.

Many analysts warn that a quick reopening is unlikely given the country’s poor vaccination coverage among the elderly and lack of natural immunity.

“China is not yet ready for a rapid reopening,” Morgan Stanley said in a report released Monday. “We expect continued containment measures.”

Only 40 percent of Chinese over 80 have received a third dose of vaccine, much less than in other countries, according to the National Health Commission.

Beijing last week unveiled plans to vaccinate millions of Chinese in their 70s and 80s, targeting a major stumbling block to scrapping containment measures.

China reported 28,062 new COVID-19 infections for the previous day on Tuesday, up from 30,014 cases a day earlier.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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