Shanghai to lift curbs on firms, Beijing eases restrictions

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Beijing and Shanghai, China’s two megacities, are gradually walking out of the shadow of Omicron outbreaks, providing valuable experiences for the country in carrying out the dynamic zero-COVID strategy that once again proves to be the most effec-tive approach in containing the highly contagious virus at the minimum costs to the economy and people’s life.

Epidemiologists summarized that fast testing, strict and timely measures are key to Beijing’s 37-day battle against the latest COVID flares-up, as the Chinese capital city drew lessons from Shanghai’s tough anti-COVID battle that has lasted for two months. With the full opening-up of the country’s top two cities, some economists forecast that the overall cost of implementing the dynamic zero-COVID approach on the economic growth rate will not exceed 0.5 percentage points. With rapid resumption of the production and business, the annual economic growth rate could still achieve 5 percent in 2022.

Beijing residents embraced a joyful Sunday in newly reopened shopping malls, cinemas and gyms in low-risk areas, a major step toward normalcy, after a month-long business suspension due to the Omicron outbreak.

Major shopping malls in Chaoyang district – the largest and most populous district in Beijing and the first implemented work-from-home order a month ago due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases – in-cluding SKP, China World Mall, China Central Place, Chaoyang Joy City and Solana announced they had reopened starting from Sunday morning, with anti-epidemic measures in place.

The reopening came after authorities announced at Saturday’s press conference that the overall epi-demic situation in Beijing is on a downward trend, with new confirmed cases dropping for six consecu-tive days and eight districts reaching zero-COVID status at the community level, signaling that Beijing has effectively brought the latest COVID-19 epi-demic under control.

“A major lesson Beijing has learned is identify-ing infections as early as possible and taking effective control measures. Meanwhile, the city has adopted scientific and dynamic measures to avoid a huge impact on people’s daily life,” a senior expert from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Preven-tion (Chinese CDC) told the Global Times on condi-tion of anonymity.

Since Beijing reported cluster infections among elderly tourist groups and students on April 22, there have been several hidden transmission routes, posing great challenges to the anti-epidemic work. The city has been racing against time to carry out more rounds of mass nucleic acid testing to screen out all potential risks of transmission as early as possible, and local authorities also normalized nucleic acid testing by asking local residents to provide a negative nucleic acid test result taken within 48 hours to enter public places and use public transportation systems, including subway and buses.

Some experts said that regular nucleic acid testing in big cities is to find infection cases as early as possible and help authorities come up with more targeted epidemic prevention measures under China’s current dynamic zero policy.

“If the next similar outbreak occurs with fast transmission speed, local authorities have the ex-periences to deal with it and local residents know what to do,” Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, also told the Global Times.

After a two-month tough battle against Omicron, Shanghai plans to restart on-site operation of com-mercial outlets from June 1, the latest sign of the Chinese financial hub’s return to normal. The city also released a plan on Sunday to accelerate economic recovery with a series of measures such as expanding the scope of housing rent reduction and exemption, increasing tax rebates and cuts, and supporting the resumption of production.—GT

 

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