In the capital of 22 million inhabitants, many shops had reopened as early as this weekend and residents could use public transport again on Monday, without having to present a negative PCR test result less than 48 hours old.
Same measure in Shanghai where this obligation is also lifted to access certain public places such as parks and tourist attractions.
The financial megalopolis of 25 million inhabitants had been severely confined for more than two months in the spring after the appearance of an outbreak of Covid cases, a very unpopular measure which also had an impact on the country's economy.
A week ago, this anger that had been simmering for months against the strict "zero Covid" policy erupted with demonstrations in a dozen Chinese cities, an unprecedented scale since the pro-democracy mobilizations of Tiananmen in 1989.
In effect for almost three years, this policy has disrupted the daily lives of residents, with repeated confinements and large-scale PCR tests almost every day during 2022.
- "Flexibility" -
Led in particular by students, these demonstrations quickly took a political turn, with some demanding the departure of President Xi Jinping.
In response, authorities have since begun to ease restrictions, a move applauded by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Chinese president himself has acknowledged that the less lethal Omicron variant "opens the way to more flexibility in restrictions", according to statements to European Council President Charles Michel, visiting Beijing last week, reported by a European official.
Last month, China published a list of measures intended to "optimize" its health policy and minimize its socio-economic impact, but their application at the local level has been highly variable.
While the Chinese economy should have recorded one of its worst growth in four decades this year, getting out of “zero Covid” is a delicate operation.
“Finding a balance between Covid-19 control measures and economic growth has once again become a central question”, according to economist Wang Zhe, who commented on Monday on the poor activity figures in services.
"Central government has recently issued clear requirements on how to further optimize (health policy). But how local authorities will or will not implement these instructions will be key."
- Cabins dismantled -
Near Shanghai, the city of Hangzhou has announced that it will end large-scale PCR tests - the norm in almost all of the country - except for those in contact with retirement homes, schools and daycares.
In Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang (northwest) - where a deadly fire sparked national protests, health restrictions being accused of having hampered relief - supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and ski resorts reopened on Monday .
The city of four million people has suffered from one of the longest lockdowns in the country, in effect in some places since early August.
In Wuhan (center), where the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in December 2019, and in Shandong province (east), public transport has also stopped requiring negative PCR tests from passengers.
In Zhengzhou (center), the authorities have lifted the test requirement for public places and transport as well as residential buildings.
While many test cabins have been dismantled in recent days, long queues were visible this weekend against those who remained, especially in Beijing and Shenzhen (south), because tests are still necessary in many places.
“Students cannot go to school without a negative test for 24 hours”, underlined a user on the Weibo social network, a sort of Chinese Twitter.
"So what's the point of closing test booths without removing all testing requirements everywhere?"
The number of cases was down on Monday, to 29,724, mostly asymptomatic, a tiny figure compared to the Chinese population (1.4 billion).
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