After protests, China indicates relaxation of corona measures

NAfter nationwide protests against the zero-Covid policy China Easing of the corona measures indicated and restrictions in some regions have already been lifted. The “new situation” requires “new tasks,” said Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan on Wednesday in a speech to the National Health Commission. The omicron variant is weakening and the vaccination rate is increasing, she said, according to the state news agency Xinhua. She no longer mentioned the strict zero-Covid strategy.

On the same day, the Chinese capital declared Beijingthat it will limit the daily testing requirement. Elderly people, students and teachers in online classes and others who do not leave home often are now exempt from daily tests, a city government spokesman said. However, all Beijing residents still need a negative test within the past 48 hours to visit public places such as cafes, restaurants and shopping malls.

The southern city of Guangzhou, meanwhile, announced the end of weeks of restrictions in some cases, despite the increasing number of infections. There were clashes between police and demonstrators in the port city on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday the restrictions in all districts were relaxed with the exception of a few designated “high-risk” areas, the local health authority said.

In Guangzhou, too, people who do not leave the house often should no longer have to be tested every day. The Haizhu district, which was shaken by the protests, went even further and declared that only employees in some sectors still had to show daily corona tests – for example in the medical sector, pharmacies or delivery drivers.

Isolation at home soon possible?

The state-run newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Thursday that local authorities in Beijing and Guangzhou are also considering allowing some corona infected people to isolate themselves at their place of residence instead of in state isolation facilities. However, the report was later deleted, local authorities did not respond to inquiries about it.

The city of Chongqing in the southwest announced on Wednesday that at least contact persons of corona infected people can now also be quarantined at home under certain conditions.

Sun’s comments, as well as the recent easing, “could indicate that China is beginning to consider ending its strict zero-Covid policy,” analysts at ANZ Research said.

Beijing’s zero-Covid policy and related lockdowns have sparked a nationwide wave of protests in China. The protests were also directed against President Xi Jinping. It is the largest protest movement since the 1989 democracy protests.

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