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"I'm fed up": the fed up of Beijingers facing zero Covid

The Chinese capital has experienced in recent days an epidemic outbreak never seen since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic.

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"I'm fed up": the fed up of Beijingers facing zero Covid

The Chinese capital has experienced in recent days an epidemic outbreak never seen since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic. Dozens of residential buildings have been confined and companies are generalizing teleworking.

Many residents are now mentally drained by these often vague and changing restrictions, the duration of which is never announced in advance.

"I'm fed up with all this. There's no one in the streets," Elaine, a young office worker, told AFP.

"I want to go out to a restaurant, to see my friends... But it's impossible."

A Frenchwoman who lives in Beijing found herself stuck in her boyfriend's apartment on Monday morning after spending the night there.

The reason? One of the neighbors tested positive, causing the entire building to be locked down for five days.

"Every night when we fall asleep, we tell ourselves that we risk being stuck in our apartment the next morning", explains the young woman, who wishes to remain anonymous to avoid possible trouble.

Outside strict confinement, “the only thing we have left is the freedom to walk in the street and breathe fresh air”, she adds.

The queues sometimes stretch for tens of meters in front of the small PCR test booths scattered throughout Beijing.

- Restaurants closed -

And businesses must navigate amid unclear restrictions.

Because the rules are not necessarily clearly announced in the media. It is often the neighborhood administrations that will notify restaurants, bars or shops directly of the closing order - generally unexpectedly.

The city of Beijing announced Wednesday nearly 1,500 new positive cases (the vast majority asymptomatic) for 22 million inhabitants. A level never reached in the capital since the start of the pandemic, but which remains very low according to international criteria.

Almost three years after the start of the pandemic, the reaction of the Chinese authorities thus seems disproportionate compared to that of many other countries in the world, which have learned to live with the virus.

The Beijingers now fear a general confinement, similar to that which struck in the spring for three months in Shanghai, the largest city in the country (25 million inhabitants).

The episode had been marked by problems with the delivery of food, difficulties in accessing hospitals for non-Covid patients and demonstrations of discontent.

The trendy district of shops, restaurants and bars of Sanlitun, in downtown Beijing, has seen its department stores close one after the other in recent days.

The central district of Chaoyang, seat of the business district and the most populous of the capital, is almost deserted.

- "Big repercussions" -

Most hairdressers, beauty salons and karaoke bars have closed.

A former gym worker has left Beijing since the facility closed in May during a previous outbreak that also led to strict restrictions.

"This new wave of Covid has had a big impact on people's lives, especially those working in the service and fitness sector," the young woman, Ms. Xu, told AFP. reveal their full name for fear of reprisals.

"Many of my former colleagues left Beijing because they had no income."

In the Dongcheng district, the historic heart of the capital, where the Forbidden City and several ministries are located, tables are set up in front of the restaurants.

The servers place plastic bags containing meals ready to be delivered to customers by an army of delivery people on electric scooters.

According to an employee of a noodle restaurant, Mr. Wang, the establishment's profits have dropped by 99% since it can no longer accommodate customers.

"With take-out sales and deliveries, we only earn a few hundred yuan a day", or a few tens of euros, he told AFP.

"I hope everything will reopen quickly. Otherwise, we will not be able to absorb the losses."

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