In a relaxed approach to the virus’ most severe threats, Beijing’s citizens were allowed to enter supermarkets, offices and parks without proving a negative COVID-19.
Last month’s violent anti-lockdown protests were the largest show of discontent on the mainland in 2012, since President Xi Jinping assumed power.
“Beijing prepares itself for life again,” reads the headline of China Daily, a government newspaper.
According to the attached article, people are “gradually accepting” their restored freedoms.
To ride the subway, or to enter any of the city’s airports, one does not need a negative test. There was no suggestion to change the rules that required passengers to submit negative tests before boarding.
Since early November, the Chinese yuan has appreciated by around 5% against USD amid hopes of a reopening China’s economy.
However, the response to these changes has been slow on the ground. Commuter traffic in major cities like Beijing and Chongqing remains at fractions of their normal levels.
Many people are still cautious about getting the virus, especially the elderly. There is also concern about the possible impact of loosening restrictions on China’s fragile healthcare system.
China reported 5,235 deaths due to COVID as of yesterday. However, experts warn that the death toll could rise to more than one million if China relaxes its measures too fast.
China is moving towards living with virus
Officials have minimized the risks of the virus, which brings China closer to what other countries have been saying over the past year. They have opted to accept the virus and remove restrictions.
Tong Zhaohui (director of Beijing Institute of Respiratory Diseases) stated that the Omicron variant has caused fewer severe cases than the 2009 global flu epidemic. This was according to Chinese state television.
Reuters reported that China could reduce its management of the virus as soon as January, to the less restrictive category B. This is in contrast to the current Category A infectious disease.
“The most difficult period has past”
“The most difficult period is over,” said the official Xinhua news agency in a comment. It cited the weakening of the virus’ pathogenicity and the efforts to vaccinate 90%.
Hu Xijin, a prominent commentator, called for greater freedom of movement throughout the country.
The former editor-in chief of the state-run tabloid Global Times stated in a blog post that “the general direction for the return of normal life is already very clear” and that it was essential to restore free movement of people between provinces in order to restore the economy.