(Natural News) Despite authorities having reported positive developments in the country’s number of COVID-19 infections, tensions are running high in the Chinese capital of Beijing, as citizens ready themselves for another wave of coronavirus outbreaks.
A new report by the Epoch Times revealed that this development came after Beijing declared the business district of Chaoyang a “high-risk region” on April 19 following a recent infection involving a family in the area.
This status, however, has since been downgraded to “low-risk,” Xu Hejian, a spokesperson for the Beijing municipal government, said Wednesday, adding that there is no increase in COVID-19 cases in the Chinese capital, whether confirmed, suspected or asymptomatic.
Restrictions still exist despite downgrade
Xu also mentioned that while Beijing has downgraded its level of emergency response to the coronavirus from first to the second tier, temperature checks and social distancing efforts will still be enforced within the city and its districts.
Authorities have also reopened 80 of the city’s tourist attractions, including the Forbidden City. The city’s attractions were ordered to close in January due to the outbreak. The reopened sites, however, are only limited to open-air spaces and will enforce limits on their number of daily visitors. The Forbidden City — which once served as the residence of China’s emperors, for instance — will only accept a maximum of 5,000 visitors daily, instead of the usual average of 80,000. Public parks, meanwhile, will only allow about 30 percent of their usual capacities.
In addition, Gao Dawei, deputy director of the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau, said large-scale group activities would remain on hold and that visitors must book tickets in advance online.
According to on-ground information, however, barely anyone can be seen in Beijing’s streets and tourist spots even after the slight relaxation of laws in the city.
“The tourist sites are opened now, but you barely see any tourists there,” a Beijing resident, who only identified herself as a “Mrs. Li,” said in an interview with the Epoch Times.
Authorities have also announced that Beijing will remain on high alert for new cases coming from travelers, however, with a primary focus on Chinese nationals who are returning from overseas trips. (Related: The US government thinks that fighting coronavirus requires spying on your phone’s data.)
According to new rules enforced by the capital, those returning from abroad will be obliged to pay out of pocket for a 14-day quarantine in a designated hotel room upon their arrival. After they return to their homes, travelers must be quarantined again in their hometown for another two weeks.
In addition to these rules for travelers, the Chinese capital has also unveiled new regulations geared towards the promotion of “civilized behavior” among its residents.
As reported by the Guardian, these new regulations include rules requiring residents to cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, not eat while traveling on public transport and wear masks whenever they are out in public. Restaurants and food establishments too will also be required to provide serving utensils to diners, and will also be encouraged — whenever possible — to serve separate portions, instead of the traditional shared family-style meals.
These regulations, which authorities said will come into force on June 1, were announced just before the start of the five-day May 1 holiday and a few weeks ahead of the rescheduled gathering of the National People’s Congress on May 22.
The new regulations are expected to add another layer to the Communist nation’s already stringent efforts to contain the coronavirus, which originated in the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province.
Among the draconian and technology-dependent measures implemented by the country’s ruling party are checkpoints, cell phone applications, cell phone data tracking, remote-operated drones, artificial intelligence (AI) and facial-recognition surveillance technology.
“With such new technologies, we should make full use of them to find the source of infection and contain the source of infection,” epidemiologist Li Lanjuan said in an interview with Chinese state broadcast network CCTV.
Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s repeated praising of their surveillance methods, these have earned scrutiny from the rest of the world, primarily because of China’s lack of data privacy laws.
As of this writing, China has recorded 84,373 coronavirus infections and 4,643 deaths.
Pandemic.news has more on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.