China eases Covid travel and manufacturing restrictions

As of Tuesday, evidence of a recent negative virus test will no longer be required to be presented in public places like these supermarkets in Beijing.

China news service | China news service | Getty Images

BEIJING — In a significant relaxation of Covid controls, the Chinese government said Wednesday people 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 halted unless an area is designated as a high-risk area.

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

The measures also said non-facilities such as retirement homes, elementary and middle schools and health clinics at venues should not require negative virus tests or health code checks.

In an example of how strict Covid controls had become in mainland China, this year the capital Beijing increasingly required people to scan a health code with a smartphone app to enter public places. The health code then had to show a negative virus test result within the last two or three days.

If the health code decided that the user had been in contact with an infection or Covid risk area, the app would display a pop-up window making it impossible for the person to enter public areas or board a train or plane, until the pop-up above has been resolved.

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The capital relaxed its requirements for scanning health codes on Tuesday.

Despite a nationwide easing of Covid measures in mid-November, a wave of infections and subsequent local implementation of China’s strict zero-Covid policy added to people’s frustration with controls. During the last weekend of November, students and groups held public protests.

In recent days, local authorities across the country have lifted many virus testing requirements.

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

“We don’t know if the true restrictions or ‘return to normal’ can actually happen within the next six months because we can see that for smaller cities like Taiyuan and Xi’an, for example, changes within the Covid restrictions are still lagging heavily behind what’s going on in Beijing and Shanghai.”

– CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this report.

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