Parks and museums have been closed in Beijing, while Shanghai has tightened rules for people entering China’s financial center as authorities struggle with a surge in COVID-19 cases and growing concerns about the economy.
China reported 28,127 new domestically transmitted cases on Monday, almost its daily high since April. About half of the total infections occur in the southern city of Guangzhou and the southwestern community of Chongqing.
Cases also hit new highs every day in the capital Beijing, prompting the city government to ask residents to stay in place and provide proof of a negative COVID test not older than 48 hours to enter public buildings.
On Tuesday, Shanghai ordered the closure of cultural and entertainment facilities in seven of its 16 districts after 48 new local infections were reported, while the city of Tianjin, near Beijing, became the youngest city to order citywide testing.
Authorities in Shanghai said on Tuesday that the city will tighten rules for people entering the country from Thursday to combat the recent surge in COVID-19 infections.
According to a statement released by the Shanghai government, people who have stayed in Shanghai for less than five days are not allowed to enter public places such as restaurants, bars, shopping malls, supermarkets and gyms.
They can still go to offices and use public transportation, the city government said.
“Zero Covid” test
China recently introduced adjustments to its “zero Covid” policy, prompting authorities to impose containment measures but avoid blanket lockdowns that have strangled the economy and frustrated residents almost three years after the start of the pandemic.
“Some of our friends have gone bankrupt and others have lost their jobs,” said a 50-year-old pensioner from Beijing with the last name Zhu.
“We can’t do many activities that we had planned and it’s impossible to travel. That’s why we’re really hoping the pandemic can end as soon as possible,” she said.
China still remains a global outlier with its strict COVID restrictions, including its almost closed borders.
Although some measures have been relaxed, including shortening quarantine for international arrivals from seven to five days, Beijing has repeatedly ruled out a fundamental shift from “zero COVID,” even as public frustration with politics grows.
President Xi Jinping’s government argues that the strict policy saves lives and is necessary to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, particularly for older people who have not yet been vaccinated.
Frustration in lock down
Last week, the main campus of Beijing University in Beijing was closed. According to a statement from the university, students and university staff have been told they are not allowed to leave the premises unless absolutely necessary, and classes have been moved online on a campus until Friday.
The latest round of lockdowns has already turned frustration into anger over the protests in a district of the southern city of Guangzhou over the past week.
Many social media users made a comparison with maskless fans at the soccer World Cup, which began in Qatar on Sunday.
“Tens of thousands in Qatar aren’t wearing masks and we’re still panicking,” wrote one user on the Weibo platform.