Beijing closed dozens of subway stations and expanded Covid restrictions on Wednesday, constricting movement around the Chinese capital despite logging only dozens of daily cases.
China has been battling its worst coronavirus flare-up since the early days of the pandemic, with most cases found in the business hub of Shanghai.
Scenes of chaos and anger at weeks of stay-at-home orders in Shanghai have alarmed people in the capital, who fear their city may be next.
On Wednesday Beijing reported 51 local infections, five of them asymptomatic, while Shanghai reported nearly 5,000 part of a downward trend as the hub loosens some restrictions.
But municipal government spokesman Xu Hejian told reporters Wednesday that the capital would “temporarily extend” its tightened Covid curbs including a ban on restaurant dine-ins and suspension of entertainment venues and gyms.
Officials initially said the ramped-up curbs would apply to the traditionally busy Labour Day break ending Thursday.
“The whole district of Chaoyang and companies in areas where public transport operations have been adjusted will implement home office from May 5,” Xu added, referring to Beijing’s most populous district.
Housing compounds where infections have been reported have already been locked down, while Beijingers have started stocking up on essentials over worries they could suddenly be ordered to stay home.
The China World Trade Center, an office and shopping complex was also temporarily closed this week.
Meanwhile, the city’s subway operator and officials announced the closure of about 60 stations Wednesday around 18 percent of the network many of them near locked down areas.
“The entrances and exits of stations will be closed… but transfers can be done within the stations,” said a notice on the Beijing Subway’s WeChat page.
But authorities also appeared to ease some rules, with Xu saying that eligible international arrivals to Beijing could do 10 days of centralised quarantine and a week of home isolation, down from 21 days of quarantine.