Image Source: REUTERS
As cases dropped, major Chinese cities Beijing and Shanghai, eased Covid controls. The number of recorded Covid cases nationwide sharply dropped to 20 from 54 a day before.
Beijing reported only eight new Covid cases last Sunday, while Shanghai recorded six.
Two months ago, Shanghai ordered its citizens to stay inside their residences for mass virus testing. Meanwhile, Beijing imposed stricter controls only a month ago.
However, in recent developments, after seeing the steep downswing in the number of cases recorded per day, authorities have decided to drop strict controls to provide space for the major economic hubs to breathe.
Authorities in Shanghai told business owners that they could reopen their establishments without the need to apply for approval starting Wednesday. They have also mentioned several initiatives to help businesses and engage consumers in the recovery of businesses across the country.
Shanghai authorities announced that they would award 10,000 yuan of $1,493 to any citizen who switches to a battery-powered car.
The state’s largest city also declared that only 220,000 were most restricted from getting out of their homes, and the remaining 22 million were already permitted to resume their normal routines outside their houses.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, many businesses have also announced their reopening – including a luxury mall and an amusement park called Happy Valley Beijing.
Beijing officials have already allowed more people to resume work as well as open public transport. According to them, if the downtrend continues, public spaces should also be opened to their half capacity – like libraries, museums, and gyms, among others.
Beijing has not totally gone full blast in reopening yet. Elementary and middle schools are not allowed to open yet, while restaurants can only provide takeout or delivery services.
Both major cities in China have taken serious protocols to counter the recent outbreaks of Covid, including the presentation of a valid negative virus test to enter public areas. For Beijing, the validity of the test lasts for 48 hours, while in Shanghai, authorities said that it would lengthen its validity to 72 hours.
Even with the developments, there is still uncertainty regarding the pace and method with which businesses can recover.
Goldman Sachs analyst said on Sunday that many clients in Beijing “question the magnitude of the growth rebound” amid the ease of controls.
“Local clients worry about scarring effects from anti-pandemic measures and growth slowdown, which include heightened uncertainties around economic and policy outlook, a higher number of bankruptcies and elevated unemployment rates.”
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.