Meanwhile, in Beijing: An exhale

While Americans begin to settle into their new reality, this past weekend in Beijing, coinciding with blue skies and spring weather, felt like an exhale. The city is nowhere near back to full capacity — it won’t be for a while, and let’s table any discussion for now about whether things will ever truly return to pre-pandemic “normal” — but there was unquestionably more traffic of both the foot and vehicle variety this past weekend. Here are some pictures from parks, etc.

Some of the city’s bars were positively boisterous — which must make authorities nervous. One manager told me cops have been passing by every evening to warn them to stay vigilant: to continue registering patrons, taking temperatures, and making sure people maintain distances. But have you tried to keep drunk people a meter apart? Inside an Irish bar still packed (relatively speaking) well after midnight, dark curtains were pulled over the windows. A list of guidelines for social distancing showed on all the TV screens, which everyone ignored.

“The risk of contracting the novel coronavirus through exposure to the environment in crowded public places in Beijing is relatively low,” Xinhua reported yesterday. Even so, residential checkpoints remain, and stricter quarantine measures for inbound passengers signal officials are still on high alert. They know that despite their best efforts — an unprecedented quarantine of an entire province — the coronavirus still got out. Other countries have proven much less capable of controlling the disease’s spread. From China’s perspective, without redoubled efforts, it may be just a matter of time before the virus gets back in.

Previously in Update from Beijing:

Live from Beijing: It’s spring and we’re all restless