BEIJING: More Chinese cities including Urumqi announced the easing of coronaviruses curbs on Sunday December 4 as China tries to make its zero-COVID policy more targeted and less burdensome after extraordinary protests against restrictions last weekend.
The capital of the Xinjiang region, where the protests first broke out, will reopen shopping malls, markets, restaurants, and other venues from Monday, authorities said, after strict lockdowns that had lasted for months.
There was little sign of significant unrest this weekend, although police were out in force in the Liangmaqiao area of Beijing and in Shanghai around Wulumuqi Road, named after Urumqi. Both sites saw protests a week ago.
A deadly apartment fire in Urumqi last month sparked dozens of protests against COVID curbs in more than 20 cities, a show of civil disobedience unprecedented in mainland China since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.
In recent days, several cities have announced the easing of lockdowns, testing requirements, and quarantine rules.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that China is about to impose a nationwide easing of testing requirements and allow positive cases and close contacts to isolate at home under certain conditions.
Last week, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said the ability of the virus to cause disease was weakening - a change in messaging that aligns with what health authorities around the world have said for more than a year.
Easing measures vary across the country.
The city of Nanning, capital of the southern region of Guangxi, has cancelled the requirement for a negative COVID test within 72 hours to take the subway.
On Saturday in Beijing, local authorities said purchasing fever, cough and sore throat medicines no longer requires real name registration. In recent days, the capital has been informed that those who are positive for the virus can be quarantined at home.
People expressed frustration over the weekend because recent negative tests were still required to enter a number of venues despite the mass closing of COVID- 19 testing booths, which resulted in long queues at those few still open.
Are they stupid or just plain mean? A Weibo user posted on Sunday. We shouldn't shut down COVID testing stations until we get rid of the COVID test pass. The number of new daily case numbers dropped to 31,824, authorities said on Sunday, which may be due to fewer people being tested due to loosening curbs. There were two deaths from the virus in China on Sunday.