On Thursday, December 1, in Beijing, the Chinese leader Xi Jinping met the European Council President, Charles Michel, to discuss the “zero-Covid” situation in China. This meeting came after numerous demonstrations against this “zero-Covid” policy in China.
During the three-hour meeting, Xi Jinping stated that the coronavirus variant Omicron allows “more flexibility” regarding the restrictions. He explained to the European Council President that “people were frustrated” because they couldn't do what they wanted because of the restrictions for three years, so they showed it with the demonstrations. According to Michel, Xi Jinping stated: “They were mostly students.”
As a result of this meeting, China eased some of its Covid-19 restrictions in some cities. For example, in Chengdu, Southeast China, people no longer need to show a negative Covid-19 test result if they want to take the subway. However, they need to show a green code indicating they didn’t pass by any “Covid-19 risk areas.” Same thing in Shenzhen or Tianjin. Furthermore, many testing centers have been removed in Beijing. The Chinese capital will follow Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Tianjin by stopping asking for a negative Covid-19 test in subways on Monday.
Then, in Beijing, hospitals can’t refuse patients anymore if they don’t have a negative Covid-19 test within fewer than 48 hours. Furthermore, people who get Covid-19 can quarantine in their own houses and don’t need to go to a special “quarantine building” opened by the Chinese government. The Capital city of Xinjiang, Urumqi, will step by step reopen its grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and ski resorts, according to a statement on Friday, December 2 from the authorities. However, some experts advise being careful with those sudden easements since Covid-19 cases are increasing in some cities.
Michael Ryan, World Health Organization emergencies director, stated on Friday at a press conference: “ We are happy to hear that the Chinese authorities are adjusting their current strategies and really trying to calibrate the virus control measures they need for people's lives, livelihoods, and human rights. It is really important that governments listen to their people when people are suffering. We really want to see this adjustment happen and accelerate.”
Finally, some Chinese government politicians announced that their politics could also see some flexibility. China vice-premier, Sun Chunlan stated on Wednesday, November 30, to the Minister of Health: “With the decreasing pathogenicity of the Omicron variant, the increasing vaccination rate and the accumulating experience of outbreak control and prevention, China’s pandemic containment faces a new stage and mission.”
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