While Beijing authorities are trying to keep the results of the mass coronavirus tests secret, it is already apparent that it will soon become a Shanghai-style confined city, considering that since April 29, health officials started closing businesses, quarantining residential complexes, and closing schools indefinitely.
Beijing has begun mass testing millions of its residents. However, some say the number of cases remains low, and the outbreak is still manageable, but authorities have moved swiftly to impose restrictions.
According to VOA News, the city’s Office of Education ordered all schools to end classes on April 29. It did not determine when they would resume, nor did it say whether there would be online classes or what would happen to those waiting to sit for vital exams.
The current wave of coronavirus is around 150 infections, with one-third of the cases coming from schools in the Chaoyang district,
Also, on April 28, two housing complexes in Chaoyang district were ordered to close, as were some clinics and businesses. Signs appeared outside the compounds reading “Entrance only, no exit,” Reuters reported.
People in areas declared by authorities to be “at-risk” have received text messages telling them to stay put and isolated in their homes until they get their test results.
“If you violate the above requirements and cause the epidemic to spread, you will bear legal responsibility,” reads a sign in a grocery store.
Joanna Szklarska, a 51-year-old Polish citizen, was sent to a quarantine hotel as a close contact, but the place had only one bed, which she had to share with her neighbor. When Szklarska refused to share the room, she was sent back home, where authorities installed an alarm on the front door. She was then taken back to the hotel, where she now has her own room.
“Nothing makes sense here,” Szklarska said.
Restrictions will increase from May 2; in a part of the district south of the main commercial area, all restaurants, entertainment venues, gyms, and non-essential businesses will close. CNBC reported that residents would have to work from home and remain quarantined. In Beijing’s Chaoyang district, the last of three rounds of screening tests began on April 29 among its 3.5 million residents. Reuters reported that most other districts are due to conduct their third round of testing on April 30.
AP reported that the announcements of closures in Beijing and mass testing prompted citizens to stock up on food and supplies, following the situation in Shanghai, where residents had no access to food during the lockdown.
Demand suddenly increased, and city residents shared lists on the Internet of what to stockpile.
The Chinese Communist Party is acting stealthily and does not intend for Beijing to be confined like Shanghai because this could unleash absolute terror in other Chinese cities, scare off foreign investors, and ruin China’s hopes of achieving its growth targets by 2022, ahead of its upcoming 20th Congress, reports The Diplomat.
Reuters reported that Beijing is currently home to 343 million people, who experience significant mobility restrictions and account for 80% of China’s economic output.