China Loosens Draconian ‘Zero Covid’ Lockdowns After Widespread Protests

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James Lynch Contributor
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China is rolling back its most severe ‘zero covid’ lockdown restrictions, its health ministry reportedly said Wednesday.

In a press conference, representatives from China’s National Health Commission announced changes such as ending regular mandatory testing and no longer forcing people with covid infections to quarantine in state facilities, CBS News reported.

In addition, people will no longer be required to show covid tests to enter public spaces and government healthcare workers will no longer lockdown apartment complexes if an individual tests positive, according to CBS News.

Most of these changes have taken place in cities and states over the past few days, Reuters reported. The changes come after public anti-lockdown protests broke out in China following a delayed response to an apartment complex fire in the city of Urumqi, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

It took four hours for firefighters to put out the blaze, in part because of Covid-19 barricades, and at least 10 people were killed. Viral clips on Chinese social media circulated of a firetruck being unable to gain access to the residential complex due to the barriers. (RELATED: Apple Restricts AirDrop Tool Reportedly Used By China’s Anti-Lockdown Protestors)

China’s ‘zero-covid’ lockdowns have brought economic hardship to the country, with its GDP forecast to grow at 3.2%, well below its 5.5% forecast, according to the Guardian. The nation’s exports and imports shrank at their steepest pace in the past 2.5 years, a downturn much worse than market projections, Reuters reported.

Citizens cheered the prospect of re-opening on Chinese social media platform Weibo and called for a return to normalcy, Reuters reported. One Weibo user called for a “return to normal and for China to return to the world,” and another citizen posted “we’re going to be free” from the restrictions.