More Chinese cities ease Covid restrictions

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More Chinese cities ease Covid restrictions

More Chinese provincial capitals relaxed Covid restrictions as authorities expand a policy shift towards reopening the economy after anti-lockdown protests erupted across the country.

Kunming, in the southwestern province of Yunnan, will allow people to ride public transport without having to show a PCR test, while Nanning of the neighboring Guangxi region scrapped such testing requirements for all public venues except hotels and tourist destinations.

In the capital of Heilongjiang in the northeast, test results are no longer required to enter public places, while people leaving the city need only take one PCR test within 48 hours, instead of two, the local government said late Saturday.

The regional centers join first-tier cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beijing that have partially loosened the curbs in the past few days. In the past week, top government officials have signaled a transition away from the harshest containment measures, which have weighed on the economy and triggered anti-lockdown protests as public discontent grew.

China reported 30,889 new local Covid cases on Saturday, down from 32,206 the day before, according to the latest official data.

While the easing measures in cities can't be interpreted as China abandons its Covid Zero policy yet, we see them as clear evidence of the Chinese government preparing for an exit, and trying to minimize the economic and social costs of Covid control in the meantime, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. s chief China economist Hui Shan and colleagues wrote in a note Sunday.

Experiences in Hong Kong and Taiwan showed that new cases will skyrocket upon reopening, with mobility declining sharply, they wrote. According to the note, Goldman Sachs base case scenario suggests China's Covid Zero policy will stay in place until April to allow for preparations.