New restrictions in Beijing, similar to a ghost town

Millions of Beijing residents are working from home on Monday after a new round of fighting Covid, giving the 22-million-strong Chinese capital the ghost town.

China is facing the worst wave of the epidemic in the two months since the initial outbreak in early 2020.

Even if infection rates remain minimal globally, the government strictly adheres to its zero-covid policy and limits city targets as soon as a few cases arise.

After Shanghai, the country’s most populous city, detained since early April, Beijing has been subject to travel restrictions for a week, and many public places (restaurants, cafes, gyms, gyms, etc.) have been closed.

On Monday, authorities severely restricted access to unimportant services in the busiest and most populous area of ​​the capital, Chaoyang, where some businesses have to limit their normal workforce to 5%.

As a result, many employees are forced to work remotely.

“Working at home is a bit boring, but it’s for everyone,” Fang, a 35-year-old Pekingese who works in advertising, declined to give his full name.

The bustling Sanlitun commercial district in eastern Beijing remained uninhabited on Monday morning. Usually a very busy Apple store was ordered to close a few minutes after opening.

– Minimize risks –

“I’m not comfortable with so few people around me,” a cleaning lady named Van told AFP as she waited to enter the restaurant where she works.

“I’m in charge of disinfection, I can’t work at home.”

On Monday, Beijing announced 49 new cases in the last 24 hours.

The health situation in the capital is “serious and difficult,” city spokesman Xu Hejiang told the press, urging residents not to leave Beijing, except for good reasons.

Access to public places, including supermarkets and office buildings, will also require screening tests that will take less than 48 hours.

On condition of anonymity, the finance officer told AFP that his company had asked him to “avoid driving” home to minimize the risk of infection on the vehicle.

In addition, “some of my friends were advised […] to come (to work) by bicycle “.

– Tension and irritation –

In Shanghai, the number of new infections fell to less than 4,000 on Monday, after exceeding 25,000 in late April.

According to the official report, the current outbreak also killed more than 500 people in Shanghai. The total number for China has barely exceeded 5,000 officially since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some residents show irritation after 40 days in prison, sometimes with supply problems.

In the Zhuangqiao area over the weekend there were clashes between residents and officials dressed in full bodysuits, according to a video posted on social networks.

“Police acted as quickly as possible to persuade eyewitnesses to disperse and restore calm,” local authorities said.

“According to the data conducted on the spot, the violators had enough food at home,” the same source said.

Experts warn that China’s Zero Covid policy, which provides for massive and repeated blockades and inspections of the population, is also proving expensive for the country’s economy.

According to the American Chamber of Commerce, a number of member companies in Shanghai remain closed, while others are questioning their investment in China, given the restrictions.

House Speaker Colm Rafferty warned that the business world was “preparing for a mass exodus of foreign talent.”