Relief, caution in Beijing as city lifts Covid dine-in curbs

Relief, caution in Beijing as city lifts Covid dine-in curbs

After staying home for more than a month, Chen Chunmei joined a long line of customers at a popular Beijing restaurant where diners tucked into massive bowls of crayfish following an easing of Covid restrictions in the Chinese capital.Last month, the city of 22 million stopped people from eating out, closed gyms and sealed off dozens of subway stations to try and stamp out a coronavirus outbreak.

The curbs are now finally easing, including at restaurants.

“I’m very excited, mainly because we’d been sealed off for so long,” Chen told AFP.

“I’ve been ordering takeout or cooking every day. I really wanted to come out for meals.”

But authorities in China are committed to a zero-Covid strategy — using rapid lockdowns, mass testing and severe travel restrictions to eliminate even the smallest outbreaks.

Chen, 28, said her compound was initially locked down for two weeks but when she was finally allowed to leave, the nearby subway station was closed.

“Since then, I’d been staying at home,” she said. “At first I thought working from home was pretty good but after a while, I got bored.”

As Beijing’s case numbers fell — it reported just two local asymptomatic infections on Tuesday — authorities told residents they could return to work this week, while schools would reopen from June 13.

The Universal Beijing resort said it will reopen on June 15, while Chinese media reported that cinemas and gyms will run at 75 percent capacity from this week in most areas.

Dine-ins at restaurants have also mostly resumed, although two districts still have restrictions in place because of recent Covid cases.


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