BEIJING, July 6, China’s capital Wednesday, mandated COVID vaccinations for most people to enter crowded venues such as libraries, cinemas, and gyms, the first such move by Beijing coupled with a slight easing of domestic travel curbs.
On July 11, a city official told a news briefing that people wanting to enter certain public would need to be vaccinated unless they have issues that render them unsuitable for shots. Restaurants and public transportation are exempt from the rule.
China has already required higher-risk employees, such as those working in the public transport and cold-chain industries, to be vaccinated, though refrained from blanket mandates on the general public and stressed vaccination is voluntary.
Beijing had fully inoculated 97.7% of its adult population last September. It is now urging residents to get booster shots and trying to persuade the elderly, a group with lower vaccination rates than younger adults, to be jabbed.
As of April 17, 80.6% of those aged 60 and above in Beijing had received their first dose.
According to city health official Li Ang, older people who visit certain venues offering activities specifically for senior citizens should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“It’s a slap on your face,” wrote a user on Twitter-like Chinese platform Weibo, alluding to the contradiction between Beijing’s rules and the national health authority’s pledge last year that there would be no curbs on movement by unvaccinated people.
Hu Xijin, a prolific Chinese commentator and former editor in chief of the state-backed Global Times, said he hoped there could be a proper “grace period” for such impactful rules, though adding that the rule had a scientific basis.
Officials should consider how to address the hesitancy among some groups, such as those who are preparing to have children and are worried that vaccination might affect the health of babies, Hu said.
Beijing has yet to specify details of the new mandate, such as whether it will just require an initial dose, a full vaccination, or even a booster, and whether it will recognize foreign vaccines such as those from Pfizer and Moderna that remain unapproved in China.
Beijing city reported three new local COVID cases on Wednesday at 3 p.m., all of whom were already isolated for medical observation following nine infections earlier this month.
The capital also finetuned its stringent rules on domestic travel.
It would now “strictly restrict” entry by people who, within seven days, have traveled in towns that have recently reported one local infection or more, compared with 14 days earlier.
It also said on Wednesday that w would scrap restrictions on entry by travelers from domestic areas near China’s international borders.
The city said it would resume direct international flights to Beijing orderly, without giving a timeline.