BEIJING (AP) — Shoppers returned to shopping malls in Beijing on Sunday as the Chinese capital eased pandemic restrictions after declaring a small but lingering COVID-19 outbreak effectively under control.
A partial reopening of shops and offices in Beijing has been welcomed by a weary population and struggling traders eager to see life return to normal. Coupled with a gradual easing of restrictions in Shanghai, he signaled that the worst was over in the two outbreaks in China’s most important cities.
Shutdowns and other restrictions under China’s “zero-COVID” strategy have increasingly frustrated residents as they watch other countries relax and reopen their borders. Some have resisted and staged protests in apartment complexes and college dorms, in an authoritarian country where people think twice about speaking out publicly because of the possible repercussions.
Restaurants remain closed in Beijing except for takeout and delivery, and many people in Shanghai can still only go out with special passes and for a limited time, even as the number of new cases has fallen. . Authorities tend to err on the side of caution in a system that easily punishes them for lax enforcement if outbreaks break out or return.
China recorded 293 new cases on Saturday, including 78 among people who arrived from abroad. Shanghai had the most non-imported cases, with 122, and Beijing had 21. That’s a population of more than 20 million people in the two cities.
Beijing on Sunday authorized the reopening of public parks, gymnasiums and cinemas, all at 50% capacity. A section of the Great Wall in a rural part of Beijing, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the city center, reopens to visitors on Monday.
Xu Hejian, a city spokesperson, said Saturday that sporadic cases are still being detected in some districts, but are within a controllable range. “This series of outbreaks has been brought under effective control,” he said.
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