Beijing to significantly lift COVID-19 measures, adjust emergency response to lowest
By Xie Wenting and Zhang Hui

Many street peddlers in Beijing are back in business after a number of places have loosened their controls on the private stall economy. (Photo:Li Hao/GT)

Beijing adjusts its emergency response level to the novel coronavirus epidemic to the lowest and lifts restrictions on various sectors, including residential community management, outdoor activities, movement of people from outside the capital and tourism starting Saturday as the capital has seen zero new COVID-19 cases for 50 consecutive days.

Beijing lowers its emergency response from the second to the third level, leaving only Central China's Hubei Province and Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region under second level response.

Beijing residential communities will no longer conduct temperature checks on residents, and deliverymen and those from outside the community could enter once the health check app shows no abnormal movements, Chen Bei,  vice secretary of the Beijing municipal government, announced at a press conference on Friday.

Outdoor exercising and entertainment facilities will be reopened, and facilities used to block the path to communities will be removed, Chen said.

Beijing will gradually allow domestic group tours, although outbound tourism will remain suspended. Beijing will also allow patients from outside the capital to seek medical treatment at Beijing's hospitals.

Students and faculty are advised to wear masks indoors, but will not be required for outdoor activities.

Beijing will gradually open parks, scenic spots, gyms, libraries, museums and certain indoor venues. But cinemas are still not included in the lift list.

However, Beijing is still facing the risk of imported cases. We cannot rule out the possibility of clustering cases, Chen said.

All passengers and crew of international flights to Beijing should undergo screening and nucleic acid tests before and after entering Beijing.

Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times on Friday that Beijing's lowering of its COVID-19 response level shows the capital is returning to normal and a step to restarting the economy.

During this process, it still needs to stay alert on the possible resurgence of the epidemic. If there is no outbreak of the virus in one month, indoor entertainment facilities, such as cinemas, can reopen. And facial masks can be taken off when people are indoors at that time, Wang said.