China eases Covid restrictions on travel and production

Starting Tuesday, public places like these supermarkets in Beijing will no longer require people to show proof of a recent negative test for the virus.

China News Service | China News Service | Getty Images

BEIJING – In a major easing of Covid controls, the Chinese government said on Wednesday that people will no longer need to show negative virus tests or health codes to travel between different parts of the country.

Chinese authorities also said that work and local production cannot be suspended unless the danger zone is designated as high.

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The announcement on the National Health Commission’s website formalized other recent changes to Covid controls, such as allowing more people to self-quarantine at home.

It also said the measures should not require negative virus tests or health code inspections in places other than facilities such as nursing homes, primary and secondary schools and medical clinics.

In an example of how tight control over Covid has been in mainland China, the capital Beijing this year required people to scan a health code via a smartphone app to enter public spaces. The health code then had to show a negative antiviral result within the last two to three days.

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If the health code determines that the user has been in contact with an infection or a Covid-risk area, the app will display a pop-up window, preventing the person from entering public areas or boarding a train or plane until the pop-up event has occurred. has been resolved.

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The capital eased the requirements for scanning the health code on Tuesday.

Despite the national easing of Covid measures in mid-November, rising infections and the local implementation of China’s strict zero-covid policy have fueled public discontent over controls. A group of students and people held a public protest on the last weekend of November.

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In the past few days, local authorities across the country have waived many of their virus testing requirements.

“When it comes to implementation, there are a lot of inconsistencies between different departments and different regions,” Dan Wang, chief economist at Han Seng China in Shanghai, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” Wednesday morning.

“We don’t know if actual restrictions or ‘return to normal’ will actually happen in the next six months, as we see it for smaller cities like Taiyuan and Xi’an. Changes in Covid restrictions still lag behind what is happening in Beijing and Shanghai.”

— CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this report.

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