Chinese cities accelerated the loosening of zero-COVID restrictions over the weekend, building expectations that Beijing could ditch the pandemic policy that has kept the country isolated for nearly three years and battered the economy, reports the Financial Times. Several Chinese cities have eased controls, even as COVID continues to circulate. China reported 31,824 infections on Sunday for tests taken the previous day, a slight decline from Saturday as testing requirements were reduced.
Shenzhen and Shanghai scrapped the requirement for commuters to present PCR test results to travel on public transport, following similar moves by Tianjin, Chengdu and Chongqing. Some apartment complexes in Beijing indicated to residents over the weekend that if they test positive they could quarantine at home rather than at a centralised quarantine facility, marking a significant relaxation of the curbs.
China’s top leadership body, the politburo standing committee, has not made a formal announcement on its stance towards the loosening of restrictions. Even so, China’s leader Xi Jinping appears to be steering the policy shift, according to people familiar with the matter.