The inhabitants of the Chinese capital fear a generalized confinement on the model of that applied to Shanghai for almost two months.
Nearly deserted tourist sites and take-out restaurants: Beijing is under threat of confinement during the Labor Day holidays. Chinese people generally take advantage of May 1 and the following holidays to travel across the country. But this year, the worst Covid outbreak since the outbreak has been forcing many to stay home.
While China’s largest city Shanghai has been closed for more than a month, the capital Beijing is holding its breath after an epidemic recovery. The city has identified more than 300 positive cases in the last few days. In all public places in the capital it is now mandatory to submit a screening test within 48 hours. To stem the infection, restaurants are forbidden to welcome customers and can only sell takeaways. To the chagrin of a sector that wanted to recover its health, during the holidays usually favorable to consumption.
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Inevitably, these measures “will have an impact on our sales,” a woman who only gave her name, An, met at a restaurant in Beijing’s Dongcheng district, where the Forbidden City is located, told AFP.
While the Chinese like to meet up with friends or family around good food, takeaway sales are far from ideal. With this system “they earn less”, sighs the manager of the plant.
Universal park closed
As a result, some neighborhood restaurants are simply closed, while others require a drug test even for a sidewalk order. Not far from there, marinated chicken legs and wraps placed in the middle of the street on a stall are unlikely to attract customers.
In times of epidemic restrictions are “necessary for the good of the country”, but these are “bad” from a personal point of view, he tells AFP a server that prefers to keep his name silent. “Usually in one day we sell for 10,000 yuan (1,438 euros) of food. There it’s only 1,000 or 2,000 yuan (288 euros).”
The May 1 holiday, which ends Wednesday, usually sees the capital’s tourist sites overrun by hordes of visitors, much to the delight of traders. But on Sunday, despite the blue skies and spring temperatures, there was little crowding of tourists at the Temple of Heaven, an iconic place where the emperor once came to pray for crops.
The same unusual calm in Wangfujing, a popular Beijing shopping street filled with fashion boutiques, souvenir stalls, and traditional restaurants. As for the Universal Studios park, which offers attractions inspired by the films Harry Potter, Jurassic World or even The Minions, the complex is closed from Sunday and until further notice.
Larger quarantine centers are under construction
Faced with the highly contagious variant of the Omicron, the city of Beijing last week launched a screening campaign for nearly all of its 22 million inhabitants. The buildings have been confined but currently represent a very small part of the population. The Pekingese, on the other hand, live in the apprehension of generalized imprisonment.
A makeshift hospital with around 4,000 beds is already operational and larger quarantine centers are under construction. The Ministry of Health reported 36 new positive cases in Beijing on Monday.
The number of contaminations is “on a plateau,” noted a city health service official, Pang Xinghuo, on Sunday. At the same time, in Shanghai, the vast majority of the 25 million inhabitants begin their second month of imprisonment. However, daily infections have tended to decrease in the past few days.