BEIJING – In response to demonstrations against the draconian policy that turned into calls for broader political freedoms, China announced Wednesday a statewide easing of COVID restrictions.
Unrest not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy uprisings was sparked by anger over China’s zero-COVID policy, which entailed widespread lockdowns, ongoing testing, and quarantines even for those who are not affected.
The National Health Commission released new rules that will minimise the frequency and scope of PCR testing, which has long been a time-consuming need in zero-COVID China.
Lockdowns will also be reduced, and individuals with mild symptoms of COVID will be permitted to isolate at home rather than in centralised government facilities.
“Asymptomatic infected persons and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation are generally isolated at home, or they can voluntarily choose centralised isolation for treatment,” the new rules read.
“Mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and high-risk work units; scope and frequency of PCR testing to be further reduced,” they added.
“People travelling across provinces do not need to provide a 48h test result and do not need to test upon arrival.”
Following the publication of new statistics demonstrating the devastating economic effects of zero-COVID, the administration made its announcement to relax the rules on Wednesday.