Beijing will begin enforcing new COVID-19 travel restrictions today to control the capital city’s biggest spike in cases since June 2020.
Those seeking to enter the city must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result and a green health code. Travel for non-essential purposes is strongly discouraged. Officials are recommending that events be moved online and that companies cancel all non-essential conferences.
Beijing is eager to reduce cases as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February. China is unlikely to relax its zero-COVID policy as this would cause a rise in local infections among vulnerable people. Remaining stringent in the short-term will reduce case numbers in time for the Games, which would boost China’s public image globally.
Such measures bring economic consequences, as socially marginalized people suffer the most. These include migrant workers who power the country’s service and e-commerce industries, as they are likely to struggle to pay for weeks-long hotel quarantines or to see their families outside the city. However, the government appears more concerned with its handling of the pandemic, as President Xi Jinping will likely use his success with COVID-19 as ammunition for his crusade to remain in power.
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Madeline McQuillan is an Analyst for Foreign Brief and a contributor to the Daily Brief. Her expertise is in European politics and transatlantic relations. She holds a Master of Science in European and International Public Policy from the London School of Economics.