China’s “zero-COVID” restrictions hold back travel for the May 1 vacation

China’s “zero-COVID” restrictions hold back travel for the May 1 vacation

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Beijing – Only a few visitors strolled the pedestrian streets of Beijing’s historic Cyanmen district, normally a national holiday and packed with tourists on a sunny spring day, Sunday.

Many Chinese celebrate a quiet first year of May as government The “zero-COVID” approach restricts travel and blocks locks in many cities. Millions of people remain in a lockout, which is only slightly relieved, from their buildings or campuses in Shanghai, China’s largest city.

According to the order announced in the afternoon, all restaurants in Beijing were closed for Sunday dinner for guests and could only offer pickup and drop-off service before the end of the public holiday on Wednesday. The parks and attractions of the Chinese capital are limited to half the capacity. Universal Studios theme park, which opened last year, said it was temporarily closed.

In Qianmen, the tourist area around the road leading to the impressive gates of the old imperial palace, some people bought food from the stalls and ate on the chairs outside. Wang Liing said that during the noodle and fried restaurant holidays, sales fell 98% from last year.

“The remaining 2% is too little for us,” he said. “There isn’t much we can do about the pandemic.”

The situation for the virus varies across a large country of 1.4 billion, but the Department of Transportation said last week that it expects 100 million trips Saturday through Wednesday, a 60% drop from last year. Most travelers remain in their provinces as local governments block or restrict cross-border travel to prevent new infections.

China adheres to a strict “zero-COVID” policy, even as many other countries relax restrictions and see if they can survive the virus. Much of Shanghai – its financial, manufacturing and maritime hub – remains stuck, disrupting people’s lives and hitting the economy hard.

The main outbreak in Shanghai, where the death toll has reached 400, appears to be falling. The city recorded about 7,200 new cases of locally transmitted infections on Saturday, up from 27,605 on April 13. Except for Shanghai, only 364 new cases were reported in the rest of China.

Beijing, which has recorded 350 cases in the past nine days, is limiting its activities to prevent a major outbreak and a Shanghai-like blockade across the city. Individual buildings and residential complexes infected with the coronavirus are sealed off. Gyms and theaters are closed for holidays. Visitors to many office buildings and attractions, such as the Great Wall of China, must show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within the preceding 48 hours.

Ban Xinghuo, vice president of the city’s disease prevention center, said epidemic prevention and control is at its most critical stage in Beijing. Peng said that although most of the new cases involved quarantined people, some were found in the wider community. Beijing is conducting repeated rounds of mass testing to identify and isolate any infected individuals.

Online booking agency Ctrip said last week that people are booking trips to largely virus-free cities like Chengdu Sichuan province and nearby Chongqing. Other popular destinations included Wuhan, where the world’s first major COVID-19 outbreak occurred in early 2020. About half of the orders on the Ctrip platform were for intra-state travel.


Associated Press video producer Olivia Zhang contributed to this report.

Source: Washington Post