Local Chinese authorities announced a further loosening of COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday, removing the requirement for negative testing in major cities like Shenzhen and Beijing before using public transportation.
Even as daily virus infections approach near-record highs, the COVID-19 testing requirements have been slightly loosened. This comes after weekend protests across the nation by citizens angry about the strict enforcement of anti-virus restrictions that are now entering their fourth year, despite the rest of the world opening up.
Shenzhen, a southern technological manufacturing hub, announced on Saturday that commuters are no longer required to present a clean COVID-19 test result in order to use public transportation or to enter pharmacies, parks, or other tourist attractions.
Meanwhile, the Chinese capital Beijing said on Friday that starting on December 5 public transportation will also no longer require negative test results. The entrance to places like shopping malls, which have progressively reopened with numerous restaurants and cafés offering takeout, still requires a negative result acquired within the previous 48 hours.
Some Beijing residents have complained about the requirement because they feel that most public places should not still require COVID-19 tests, despite the city closing many testing stations.
33,018 domestic infections were discovered in the last 24 hours, including 29,085 with no symptoms, according to the government.
China is the only major country that is still adhering to a “zero-COVID” strategy, which attempts to isolate every sick individual, as the rest of the world has learnt to live with the virus. The strategy, which has been in effect since the pandemic began, resulted in widespread testing and sudden lockdowns across the nation.
Even though the number of infections in China is low in comparison to its population of 1.4 billion, the country still requires travelers to enter the country under mandatory quarantine.
After a fire broke out in an apartment building in the northwest Chinese city of Urumqi on November 25, the most significant and widespread demonstrations in decades broke out. At least ten people were killed in the fire.
That sparked irate online comments about whether locked doors or other anti-virus measures prevented firemen or victims from fleeing. Authorities refuted that, but the deaths came to represent the public’s ire.
Protests that lasted several days took place in multiple locations throughout the nation, including Shanghai and Beijing, with the demand that COVID-19 limits be loosened. Some called for the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, an astonishing display of popular discontent in a culture where the ruling Communist Party wields almost complete control.
The administration of Xi Jinping has pledged to cut the price and inconvenience of regulations but claims it would maintain “zero-COVID.” In order to prepare for the easing of restrictions that prevent the majority of visitors from entering China, millions of older people are being immunized. Health experts and economists anticipate it to remain in place at least through mid-2023 and probably into 2024.
The government has admitted making certain errors, mostly due to overzealous personnel, but criticizing their policies might lead to retaliation. According to local media sources, former NBA star Jeremy Lin, who currently represents a Chinese team, was recently fined 10,000 yuan ($1,400) for disparaging the state of team quarantine facilities.
Dr. Michael Ryan, director of the World Health Organization’s emergency department, stated on Friday that the WHO was “pleased” to see China relax some of its coronavirus restrictions and that it was “really important” for governments to pay attention to their citizens when they are suffering.