END 1-Beijing and Shenzhen ease more COVID-related restrictions as China eases closer

Beijing residents cheered the removal of COVID-19 testing booths, while Shenzhen followed other cities in announcing it would no longer require commuters to show their test results to travel, as the easing of China’s virus containment took hold. rhythm.

Although daily cases are nearing all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to relax COVID-19 testing requirements and quarantine rules as China tries to steer its zero-Covid policy amid an economic slowdown and growing public frustration. have turned into disturbances. . Three years into the pandemic, China has been a global anomaly with its zero-tolerance approach to COVID, which has seen it impose lockdowns and frequent testing for the virus. It says the measures are necessary to save lives and avoid overwhelming its health system.

China began changing its approach last month, urging localities to become more targeted. However, initial reactions were marked by confusion and even tighter lockdowns as cities struggled to contain rising cases. Then last month, a deadly apartment fire in the far western city of Urumqi sparked dozens of protests against COVID restrictions, in an unprecedented wave in mainland China since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012. Since then, cities like Guangzhou and Beijing have taken the lead in making the changes. .

Fewer tests On Saturday, the southern city of Shenzhen announced it would no longer require people to show a negative COVID test result to use public transport or enter parks, following similar moves by Chengdu and Tianjin, among the largest cities in China.

Many testing booths in the Chinese capital Beijing have also been closed as the city stops requiring negative test results as a condition to enter places such as supermarkets and prepares to do so for subways from Monday, although many other locations, including offices, are still required. A video of workers in Beijing removing a test cabin with a crane on a truck went viral on Chinese social media on Friday.

“This should have been taken sooner!” said one commenter. “Exiled to history,” said another. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the footage. At some of the remaining booths, however, residents grumbled about hour-long lines for tests because of the closures.

FURTHER REDUCTIONS China is set to announce a further nationwide reduction in testing requirements and will allow positive cases and close contacts to self-isolate at home under certain conditions, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this week.

Xi, during a meeting with European Union officials in Beijing on Thursday, blamed the mass protests on young people frustrated by years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said the Omicron variant of the virus, now dominant, had paved the way for more few restrictions, EU officials. said. Officials have only recently begun downplaying Omicron’s dangers, a significant shift in messaging in a country where fear of COVID has run deep.

On Friday, some neighborhoods in Beijing posted guidelines on social media about how positive cases can be quarantined at home, a landmark move that marks a break from official guidance to send such people into central quarantine . However, the relief has also been accompanied by concerns, particularly from groups such as the elderly who feel more exposed to a disease that authorities have consistently described as deadly until this week, highlighting the difficulties with face Xi and Chinese leaders to relax.

China reported 32,827 new local COVID-19 infections for December 2, down from 34,772 a day earlier.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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