China eases Covid restrictions on travel and manufacturing

Starting Tuesday, public places like this supermarket in Beijing no longer require people to show proof of a recent negative test for the virus.

China News Service | China News Service | Getty Images

BEIJING — With a significant loosening of Covid controls, the Chinese government said Wednesday that people will no longer need to show negative virus tests or health codes to travel between different parts of the country.

The Chinese authorities also said that unless the area is designated as a high-risk area, work and local production cannot be stopped.

The announcement on the National Health Commission website formalized other recent changes to Covid controls, such as allowing more people to be in home quarantine.

The measures also said that, with the exception of institutions such as nursing homes, elementary and secondary schools and health clinics, event venues should not require negative virus tests or health code checks.

As an example of how strict Covid controls have become in mainland China, the capital Beijing this year increasingly required people to scan a health code with a smartphone app to enter public places. The health code then had to show a negative virus test result for the last two or three days.

If the health code decides that the user has come into contact with a Covid infected or infected risk area, the application will display a pop-up window in which the person will not be able to enter public places or take a train or plane until the pop-up window appears. up was decided.

On Tuesday, the capital relaxed requirements for scanning health codes.

Despite a nationwide easing of COVID-19 measures in mid-November, a surge in infections and subsequent local enforcement of China’s strict anti-coronavirus policies have added to people’s frustration with the control measures. Students and groups of people held public protests on the last weekend of November.

Over the past few days, local authorities across the country have lifted many virus testing requirements.

“When it comes to implementation, there are a lot of inconsistencies between different departments and different regions,” Deng Wang, chief economist at Hang Seng China based in Shanghai, told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia on Wednesday morning.

“We don’t know if real restrictions or a ‘return to normal’ can actually happen within the next six months because we can see this for example for smaller cities like Taiyuan and Xi’an, their changes in Covid restrictions. are still very far behind what is happening in Beijing and Shanghai.”

– Jihyo Lee of CNBC contributed to this report.

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