Dine-in service in Beijing will resume on Monday, except for the Fengtai district and some parts of the Changping district, the Beijing Daily said. Restaurants and bars have been restricted to takeaway since early May.Normal work will resume and traffic bans will be lifted on Monday in most areas of Beijing, the newspaper reported. Employees in some areas have been required to work from home.
Residents will need to show a PRC test taken within 72 hours to enter public spaces and take public transport, as part of steps to normalize COVID testing, the newspaper reported.Beijing reported 16 new local symptomatic cases, up from five a day earlier, and three new local asymptomatic cases, up from one, according to the local government.Shanghai reported six new local symptomatic cases, up from five, and 16 new local asymptomatic cases versus nine the previous day, local government data showed.
Mainland China recorded 162 daily coronavirus cases, of which 56 were symptomatic and 106 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said. That compares with 171 new cases a day earlier - 46 symptomatic and 125 asymptomatic, which China counts separately.There were no new deaths, leaving the nation's death toll at 5,226. As of Saturday, mainland China had confirmed 224,310 cases with symptoms.
After successfully curbing the novel coronavirus for most of the past two years, China in recent months has faced its biggest Covid-19 surge since the virus was first discovered in Wuhan in December 2019. The Covid wave caused by the highly contagious omicron variant has spread across many major cities, including Shanghai.This past month, the wave has reached the capital, Beijing, and what happens there could have enormous implications for the course of the pandemic, China’s government, and the global economy.
As of Wednesday, May 18, Beijing has reported 719 cases since the beginning of the month, part of the worst surge the city has faced since the virus emerged. By comparison, Shanghai, China’s economic capital, which had previously dominated the headlines for its devastating surge, has reported 4,798 cases since the beginning of this month. China as a whole has passed the 1.5 million Covid-19 total confirmed case count, with the vast majority of cases reported since the beginning of March.
Although the Beijing case count is lower compared to Shanghai’s, and considerably lower than what’s been seen in the United States, China has responded with urgency. Beijing officials have rolled out numerous policies from their zero-Covid pandemic playbook. This has included rounds of mandatory mass PCR testing for its population of 22 million residents; partial lockdowns; contact tracing; isolation of cases and close contacts; sealing off of buildings; public transit cutbacks; closures of schools, malls, movie theaters, and gyms; and bans on indoor dining at restaurants.
Zhuoran Li, a research assistant at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, told me, “Family and friends in Beijing have told me that, right now, it’s still more of locking down [specific] communities rather than the entire city. My uncle and aunt, [for example], can still go buy food themselves.”
Chinese authorities are acting quickly to prevent Beijing from entering a full-scale lockdown, which was undertaken most notably and recently in the financial capital, Shanghai. The lockdown there, which involved quarantining a city of over 26 million people, has come under much criticism — both domestic and international — with stories coming out about food shortages and civilians’ inability to access basic medical care.