Major Chinese cities from Dalian to Shenzhen step up COVID restrictions

BEIJING/SHENZHEN, China, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Several of China’s biggest cities imposed tougher COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, further hampering the activities of tens of millions of people and sparking new health concerns for a barely growing economy.

Metropolises from the southern technology hub of Shenzhen to southwest Chengdu and the northeast port of Dalian have ordered measures such as lockdowns in major districts and shutdowns of businesses aimed at stamping out new outbreaks.

The latest restrictions, which will delay the start of the school year for some, reflect China’s strict adherence to a “dynamic COVID zero” policy of canceling every surge.

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This insistence makes it an outlier as the rest of the world tries to live with the coronavirus despite the cost to the world’s second-largest economy.

While many measures are initially only scheduled for a few days, any major escalation or expansion in some of China’s biggest cities risks further damaging already tepid growth. Read more

While the two most populous cities of Beijing and Shanghai have only faced sporadic cases recently, COVID-related concerns still weighed on Chinese stocks.

“Markets could be hit again in the next two weeks, likely triggering another round of street cuts,” Nomura warned in a note, stressing the importance of cities like Shenzhen, also a major port.

On Tuesday, Shenzhen’s Longhua District, which has a population of 2.5 million, closed entertainment venues and wholesale markets and suspended major events.

People must show proof of negative test results within 24 hours to enter residential compounds, and restaurants must limit customers to half capacity, Longhua District authorities said. The new curbs will run until Saturday.

The measures followed similar measures on Monday covering three other districts that affected more than 6 million people in Shenzhen, which has battled outbreaks of Omicron subvariants this year.

City officials halted ahead of a general delay for the new school year, but six parents of young children said their schools told them of postponements as many parent focus groups expressed concern over uncertainty.

CLOSED DISTRICTS OF THE PORT CITY

In Dalian, a major import center for soybeans and iron ore, a lockdown that began on Tuesday is expected to continue until Sunday in major urban areas with around 3 million people. Households can send one person each day to shop for daily needs.

The lockdown forces non-essential workers to work from home, while manufacturing companies must reduce on-site staff and maintain only basic and urgent operations.

The southwestern city of Chengdu, with a population of 21 million, ordered a general closure of public entertainment and cultural venues from Tuesday.

It planned to delay the start of the fall school semester and required residents to have proof of a negative test result within 24 hours to enter certain areas.

The northern municipality of Tianjin, which has a population of 13.7 million, began a new round of citywide COVID testing, its fourth since Saturday.

The city of Tianjin said it would delay the resumption of offline classes in many schools.

In the northern city of Shijiazhuang, about a 3.5-hour drive from Beijing, four major districts have ordered more than 3 million people to work from home through Wednesday afternoon, excluding those occupying essential jobs.

Mainland China reported 1,717 locally transmitted COVID infections for August 29, including 349 symptomatic and 1,368 asymptomatic, according to official data released on Tuesday.

Of more than 20 places that reported infections on Monday, Tibet, Qinghai and Sichuan province, of which Chengdu is the capital, accounted for the bulk of daily cases.

Qinghai’s capital Xining, with a population of 2.5 million, ordered a Monday-Thursday morning lockdown in major urban areas, halting public transport and restricting movement.

Cases have risen in Hong Kong, which does not have the same zero-COVID measures as mainland China, with government advisers expecting a daily tally of 10,000 infections this week, stoking fears of tighter curbs just relaxed.

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Ryan Woo, David Kirton and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Clarence Fernandez

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Major Chinese cities from Dalian to Shenzhen step up COVID restrictions

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