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China’s zero-Covid restrictions curb May 1 holiday travel

A vendor wearing a face mask sits near pinwheels for sale at a public park in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)
A vendor wearing a face mask sits near pinwheels for sale at a public park in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

Many Chinese are marking a quiet May Day holiday this year as the government’s zero-Covid approach restricts travel and enforces lockdowns in multiple cities.

All restaurants in Beijing are closed to dine-in customers from Sunday through the end of the holiday on Wednesday, open only for takeaways and deliveries.

Parks and tourist attractions in the Chinese capital are limited to 50% of their capacity. The Universal Studios theme park in Beijing, which opened last year, said it had shut down temporarily.

Virus Outbreak China
A security guard takes the temperature of visitors as they enter a public park in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

The pandemic situation varies across the vast nation of 1.4 billion people, but the Transport Ministry said last week that it expected 100 million trips to be taken from Saturday to Wednesday, which would be down 60% from last year.

Many of those who are traveling are staying within their province as local governments discourage or restrict cross-border travel to try to keep out new infections.

China is sticking to a strict zero-Covid policy even as many other countries are easing restrictions and seeing if they can live with the virus.

Virus Outbreak China
Parks and tourist attractions in Beijing are limited to 50% of their capacity (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

Much of Shanghai — China’s largest city and a finance, manufacturing and shipping hub — remains locked down, disrupting people’s lives and dealing a blow to the economy.

The major outbreak in Shanghai, where the death toll has topped 400, appears to be easing. The city recorded about 7,200 new locally transmitted cases on Saturday, down from a peak of 27,605 on April 13.

Outside of Shanghai, only 364 new cases were found in the rest of mainland China.

Beijing, which has recorded 350 cases in the past nine days, is restricting activity to try to prevent a large outbreak and avoid a city-wide lockdown similar to Shanghai.

Individual buildings and housing complexes with coronavirus cases have been locked down.

Virus Outbreak China
People check their smartphones to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test as they enter a park in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

Visitors to many office buildings and tourist sites such as the Great Wall must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test within the previous 48 hours.

Online booking agency Ctrip said last week that people were booking travel to cities which are mostly virus-free, such as Chengdu in Sichuan province and the nearby city of Chongqing.

Other popular destinations include Wuhan, where the world’s first major outbreak of Covid-19 occurred in early 2020.

About half of the orders on the Ctrip platform were for travel within a province.

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