Beijing to loosen more COVID-19 curbs in move towards normalcy

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Beijing will continue to roll back its COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, as China’s capital eyes a return to normality after declaring at the end of last month that the latest outbreak of the virus was under control.

The city will resume public transport in most districts, except Fengtai and some parts of Changping, allowing workers to return to their offices and restaurants to restart dine-in services, the local authorities said in a statement on Sunday.

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The loosening comes after officials said on Friday that the city had achieved zero new community cases in 13 out of 16 districts for seven consecutive days, a key threshold for unwinding the curbs.

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China’s rigid COVID-19 Zero strategy has brought the recent outbreaks in megacities like Shanghai and Beijing under control -- although in the case of Shanghai that involved a punishing two-month lockdown -- and authorities have warned that the risk of a resurgence remains.

Beijing said that scenic areas, parks, and entertainment facilities like cinemas will open for business in most areas from Monday, with maximum capacity capped at 75 percent. Residents are allowed to move about freely as long as they have a negative COVID-19 test result within the prior 72 hours. The previous requirement was 48 hours.

Schools will reopen gradually, with middle schools and elementary schools resuming in-person classes from June 13, and kindergartens from June 20, according to the statement.

China reported a total of 88 local infections and asymptomatic cases on Saturday, with 19 from Beijing and 22 from Shanghai, according to the National Health Commission.

Read more: Spike in Mumbai cases pushes India’s COVID-19 infections to month high

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