Beijing Tightens Measures as Some Residents Grow Weary

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Residents in Beijing remained on edge on Tuesday as the authorities announced new measures to contain a small but growing outbreak of coronavirus cases, in an effort to avoid a lockdown like the one imposed in Shanghai.

“I feel pessimistic,” said Yang Hui, 37, a sales manager in Beijing. “What happened in Shanghai was a cautionary tale.”

Ms. Yang said that she had already prepared for the possibility of an indefinite lockdown. Last week, she ordered several boxes of instant noodles and cat litter after a positive case was detected near her home.

Fortunately for Ms. Yang, authorities have stopped short of instituting a citywide lockdown — at least so far. But she said the government’s containment measures were increasingly disrupting her life in other ways.

Twice in the last week, she dutifully lined up with neighbors outside her apartment building to participate in the government’s mandatory mass testing campaign. Last week, she canceled dinner plans with friends because she did not feel like getting the Covid test that the city requires for dining in restaurants.

Then, officials banned dining at restaurants altogether and ordered entertainment venues to close. The reopening of schools, which were closed ahead of a national holiday, has been postponed for at least one week. And residents must now show proof of testing negative within the last 48 hours just to enter public spaces, including public transportation.

“It’s hard to plan anything in advance,” said Ms. Yang, who is now scrambling to arrange child care for her two children. “I’m so tired of Covid and the so-called ‘zero Covid’ strategy.”

Beijing on Tuesday reported 53 new locally transmitted cases, bringing the total from the recent outbreak to 453. The case count remains relatively low compared with that of Shanghai, which reported 5,669 new cases. At the height of its outbreak last month, Shanghai was reporting as many as 27,000 cases a day.

In Beijing on Tuesday, the government ordered the closure of indoor museum exhibitions, including those at the Palace Museum, one of the city’s marquee tourist destinations. Commuters entering and leaving Beijing now are also required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the last 48 hours, or a green health code on the government app that China uses to track an individual’s risk of Covid.

For many residents, the restrictions put a damper on the five-day national holiday that started on Saturday. Some people found workarounds. Over the weekend, crowds gathered on the banks of Liangma River, which winds through the center of the city, for picnics and foot massages.

But the revelry didn’t last long. By Tuesday, tall barriers had been erected along the river to block gatherings.

“It’s a shame,” said Jenny Fan, 29, who lives in Beijing and saw the crowds over the weekend. “People just want to have fun during this difficult time.”