China Eases COVID-19 Curbs to Stimulate the Economy

China reported fewer Covid-19 cases in Beijing and Shanghai, with authorities pushing for stimulating the economy by easing some of the initiated since the outbreak more than two year ago.

In Beijing cases fell to 12 on Sunday, from 21 on Saturday. Curbs on movement in several districts started to be loosened yesterday after authorities said the outbreak was under control. The easing caseload has eased concern that Beijing could have been headed for a lockdown when it was reporting several dozen cases a day earlier in the outbreak despite increasingly strict restrictions.

In Shanghai, cases dropped to 67 for Sunday from 122 on Saturday. The financial hub yesterday rolled out a raft of measures to support the lockdown-hit economy, including allowing all manufacturing to restart from Wednesday.

In other moves, the city will accelerate approvals for property projects and the quota for car ownership this year will be increased by 40,000. A purchase tax for some passenger vehicles will be reduced and subsidies will be given to electric car buyers. Covid test requirements will be loosened for people entering public places from June 1 as the city tries to restore a sense of normalcy after a two-month lockdown of its 25 million population.

In Beijing, most public transport including buses, subways and taxis will resume in three districts including Chaoyang. Shopping centers outside of controlled areas in the city will also be allowed to reopen with capacity limits. Chaoyang is home to Beijing’s central business district, most foreign embassies and expatriates.

Workers in some Beijing districts who were required to work from home previously will be allowed to return to their workplaces, and hotels and hostels in five districts on the city’s outskirts will be permitted to reopen.

Schools and kindergartens will remain suspended and university campuses will stay closed, with students urged to go home before the summer holidays. Dining-in will still be banned at restaurants.