China’s capital Beijing has announced strict control measures across the city’s scenic spots and cultural venues during the four-day May Day holiday due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, while Omicron-hit Shanghai reported zero new infections outside quarantine areas for the first time since the city of 25 million went into lockdown a month ago.
All performance and entertainment venues, internet cafes, offline art training and city group tours will be suspended due to the current COVID-19 outbreak during the May Day holiday beginning on Saturday, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism announced.
The Beijing Municipal Film Administration announced on Friday night that all cinemas in the capital will be closed between April 30 to May 4.
To enter venues, visitors must have their temperature measured, scan their health code and provide a nucleic acid test negative certificate taken within 48 hours.
A nucleic acid test result taken within 48 hours is also required to stay in hotels, the announcement said.
Beijing which has conducted three rounds of nucleic acid tests reported 34 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.
After large-scale nucleic acid screening across 11 districts, the number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Beijing remained in the dozens per day, with a total of 228 infections reported so far, a spokesperson from the Beijing municipal government said during a Friday press conference.
Meanwhile, in a big relief for Shanghai, the city has reported no infections outside the quarantine zones for the first time, state-run Global Times reported.
Also, the country’s business hub continued to see a decline in new COVID-19 infections with 1,249 new confirmed local cases and 8,932 asymptomatic infections registered on Friday, according to the Shanghai health authority.
But the city continued to report a high death toll as 47 more died of the COVID-19 on Friday, which took the city’s death tally during the recent flare-up to 384 people.
The Chinese mainland on Friday reported over 10,700 COVID-19 cases. As of Friday, 26,567 people were undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in China, the National Health Commission reported on Saturday.
On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that, “currently we are faced with the Omicron tsunami. This variant spread very fast, much faster than we can imagine.” Zhao said China brought under control the Delta variant spread last year in about 14 days but the Omicron attack was far more severe.
He was replying to a question on the EU Chamber of Commerce in China expressing concern about the state of the world’s second-largest economy and its criticism that the zero-COVID policy has led the country to a dead end.
Joerg Wuttke, President of the EU Chamber, in an interview said Shanghai, China’s biggest business hub, has been in lockdown for a month and China’s economy is suffering an enormous slump.
The supply chains are so interlinked that lockdown measures in one place have ripple effects on other regions, he said, urging China to take an example from Singapore, where politics and society have learned to live with the coronavirus.
“China is losing its credibility as the best sourcing location in the world,” he said.
As the situation turned grim, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by President Xi Jinping asked its Political Bureau to analyse the situation.
Noting that the economy faces growing complexities and uncertainties, the meeting stressed the importance of economic stability in ensuring improvement in people’s livelihoods, the official media reported.
The meeting called for upholding the ”people first, lives first” principle and the dynamic zero-COVID approach to protect people’s lives and health, and minimise the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development.
China should step up macro policy adjustment and work hard to achieve annual economic and social development goals, and keep the economy running within a reasonable range, it suggested.