Beijing shuts down metro stations and bus routes to stop spread of Covid

·2-min read

China’s capital city of Beijing shut down several metro stations and bus routes on Wednesday in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19 and rising cases across the country.

Several people were seen returning from shuttered subways as authorities shut down more than 40 metro stations and closed 158 bus routes, mostly in the Chaoyang district.

However, the subway closings had a relatively low impact on the city as China observed the Labor Day holiday this week with many commuters in the capital of 21 million already working from home.

In a neighbourhood categorised as "high risk", the streets were visibly deserted with only delivery drivers on scooters and an occasional pedestrian or car seen outside. All businesses, except for supermarkets and fresh produce stores, were shut in the area.

Citizens in “controlled” areas have been told to stay within city limits, which includes 12 areas that are deemed "high risk" and 35 considered to be of "medium risk". Some communities where cases have been discovered were reportedly isolated.

A man rides a shared bicycle past a closed subway station (REUTERS)
A man rides a shared bicycle past a closed subway station (REUTERS)

Other Covid-19 restrictions, including closures of entertainment venues and gyms, will remain in place beyond the May Day holiday, according to local media. Tourist spots such as the Forbidden City and the Beijing Zoo will operate only at partial capacity and keep their indoor halls closed.

Under the partial lockdown, authorities will continue to cap the flow of people at public venues at 50 per cent and dining at restaurants would remain suspended.

Beijing on Thursday reported 50 new cases of Covid-19 infection with eight of them asymptomatic.

Twelve out of 16 districts in the capital are conducting the second of three rounds of tests this week after conducting three mass screenings last week.

People wearing face masks line up for Covid-19 tests (AP)
People wearing face masks line up for Covid-19 tests (AP)

The quarantine rules for those arriving in Beijing from overseas were also eased on Thursday, under which travellers will now be allowed to isolate at a hotel for 10 years followed by a week of home confinement.

Although China has a strict "zero-tolerance" policy, it has avoided imposing a complete lockdown in Beijing in the wake of a backlash from Shanghai.

Shanghai recorded 4,651 new cases, including 261 asymptomatic infections and 13 deaths.

The central city of Zhengzhou with a population of 12.6 million people on Tuesday announced work from home and other Covid-19 related restrictions from the next week.

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