New lockdowns turn Beijing into a ghost town

Millions of Beijing residents worked from home on Monday after authorities tightened anti-Covid measures, giving the Chinese capital of 22 million people an image of a ghost town.

China has been facing the worst for two months epidemic outbreak since the beginning of 2020.

Although the numbers of infections are minimal compared to the world level, the authorities strictly apply the “zero Covid” policy and impose confinements in entire cities as soon as some cases are detected.

After Shanghai, the most populous city in the country confined since the beginning of April, Beijing has been under travel restrictions for a week and many public places (restaurants, cafes, gyms…) are closed.

This Monday, the authorities strictly limited access to non-essential services in the Chaoyang district, the most dynamic and populated in the capital.

The bustling commercial district of Sanlitun in eastern Beijing was deserted on Monday. The apple storefor example, was ordered to close minutes after opening its doors.

“I don’t feel comfortable with so few people around me,” a cleaning worker named Wang told AFP as she waited to enter the restaurant where she works. “I’m in charge of disinfection, I can’t work from home,” she added.

move to hotels

Some workers in the finance sector moved to hotels near their offices.

“Our company told us we should try not to go home because they think there is risk in commuting,” said a Beijing investment manager who moved into a hotel not far from his workplace.

Some of my friends were advised not to take public transport to work, and instead drive or cycle,” he added.

Beijing on Monday announced 49 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

In Shanghai, the number of daily infections fell below 4,000 on Monday, after topping 25,000 at the end of April.

The current epidemic outbreak has killed more than 500 people in Shanghai, according to official data. In total, China has officially recorded about 5,000 deaths due to the virus since the start of the pandemic.

After nearly 40 days of confinement and some food supply problems, the inhabitants of Shanghai begin to show their exasperation.

In the Zhuanqiao neighborhood, several residents confronted officials equipped with comprehensive anticovid protection this weekend, according to a video posted on social media.

The police acted quickly to convince onlookers to disperse and bring calm,” local authorities reported.

“According to an investigation carried out on the spot, the rioters had enough food at home,” said the same sources.

The confinement in the Chinese economic capital, a port of entry and exit for goods, has a great impact on the economy of the Asian giant.

Last month, China’s exports advanced at their lowest rate for almost two years (+3.9%).

Analysts contacted by the Bloomberg agency estimated that the slowdown would be more pronounced (+2.7%), after a rise of 14.7% in one year in March. This is the worst increase in Chinese exports since June 2020 (+0.5%).

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