As Chinese authorities are beginning to announce a gradual easing of the harsh measures imposed as per the country's zero-COVID policy, one episode in Beijing has resulted in additional restrictions, it was reported.
Shanghai will start lifting its confinement measures for residents in low-risk areas, allowing them to freely leave and enter their compounds, effective Wednesday. Cab and car rental services will resume as bus and underground services also make a gradual comeback.
Authorities also allowed for the return of free movement in various parts of Beijing after health officials said the outbreak was under control. Buses, subways, and cabs will resume in three districts, including Chaoyang, home to most foreign embassies and foreign residents. Starting Monday, parks, museums, and cinemas began reopening.
Shopping malls outside controlled areas were also allowed to reopen, albeit with capacity limits. Residents working from home will be able to return to their offices, while hotels and hostels in five districts on the outskirts of the city will be able to reopen. However, education facilities and restaurants will remain closed.
In this scenario, thousands of Beijing residents had to observe a strict quarantine because of a man who did not observe the isolation mandate and later tested positive for coronavirus, as the number of cases in China's capital was on the rise. Authorities reported Sunday that a man in his 40s named Sun had breached an isolation order placed on him after visiting a shopping mall considered of high risk.
During the period of home isolation he went out many times and walked around the neighborhood, Beijing public security official Pan Xuhong explained. Since Sun and his wife tested positive, 5,000 of their neighbors were ordered to isolate and 250 others were sent to government quarantine centers.
On Sunday, 122 cases were reported nationwide, the fewest since March 3. China has not reported an infection-free day since October, despite its zero-tolerance approach to the virus.
Beijing's western district of Haidian, home to the country's top universities and the offices of global technology companies such as Tencent Holdings Ltd and Microsoft Corp, put several neighborhoods on a seven-day lockdown as lingering infections there pose the risk of further community spread.
Shanghai's closure and other restrictions elsewhere in the country of 1.4 billion people have affected consumer spending and manufacturing alike.
People violating China's strict measures such as quarantines, mass testing, and tight confinements face stiff penalties.