Beijing delays plans to reopen movie theaters and schools in response to new COVID-19 cases

Society & Culture

Just as Beijing was beginning to get back to normal after months of paralyzing COVID-19 lockdown, health authorities in the city confirmed three new coronavirus cases in the past two days. This has brought back some social distancing rules and caused a reversal of decisions about reopening businesses.

Just as Beijing was beginning to get back to normal after months of paralyzing COVID-19 lockdown, health authorities in the city confirmed three new coronavirus cases in the past two days. This has brought back some social distancing rules and caused a reversal of decisions about reopening businesses.

On June 11, officials in the Chinese capital reported a newly confirmed locally transmitted case of COVID-19, after nearly two months of no new cases in the city. The patient, a 52-year-old resident in Beijing’s Xicheng District, didn’t leave the city and wasn’t in recent contact with anyone who had traveled overseas before he checked into a hospital on Wednesday with a fever.

A day later, Beijing confirmed two more infections. The patients were coworkers at a meat research center in Fengtai District. Similar to the previous case, they had no recent contact with anyone who had traveled overseas. One of them, though, had visited the eastern Chinese city Qingdao for a five-day business trip before showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The new cases have ignited Chinese officials’ worst fear that a second wave of the deadly virus could be on the horizon. To curb potential infections, Beijing has closed off communities where the newly identified patients lived, and is monitoring residents with temperature checks and disinfecting public locations. The city also launched a comprehensive epidemiological investigation that involves contact tracking and tracing.

Meanwhile, the new infections have already complicated Beijing’s return to normalcy. At the end of April, as COVID-19 worries waned, Beijing relaxed travel restrictions and scrapped a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving from low-risk areas of China. Last week, the city lowered its emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak while allowing most businesses to reopen.

But in response to the new cases, the city has issued a few new shutdown orders and postponed its plans to fully open up its economy. The decisions made in the past two days include the following:

  • Beijing has canceled plans (in Chinese) to reopen schools for students in grades 1 to 3 on June 15.
  • Six wholesale markets that the patients had visited are ordered to shutter (in Chinese).
  • Indoor entertainment venues like movie theaters and karaoke rooms need to remain closed (in Chinese) until further notice.
  • Group meals are banned (in Chinese) again in restaurants.
  • All sports events that were scheduled to take place have been put on hold (in Chinese).