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‘Sick of everything’: Beijingers fed up with tightening restrictions


BEIJING: Schools and businesses closed, restaurants empty and fear of being locked down at any moment – China’s capital is a cauldron of fear and fatigue as Covid’s lockdown orders are tightened almost three years after the pandemic.
As infections in Beijing increase, residents are increasingly fed up with navigating vague, fickle restrictions and exhausted from knowing how long they might last.
Elaine, an office worker in her twenties, says: “Now I’m sick of everything, there’s no one on the street.
“I want to go out to eat and socialize with friends, but that’s not possible,” she told AFP.
A French expatriate living in Beijing was suddenly locked in his boyfriend’s apartment on Monday morning after staying overnight – one of his neighbors became infected, putting the entire building on lockdown. in 5 days.
“Every time we go to bed, we’re not sure if we’ll be stuck in our own apartment the next morning,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.
“The only thing we have left is the freedom to walk down the street and breathe in the fresh air.”
Now, test queues regularly stretch around the blocks, while businesses struggle to manage often unclear red lines.
The fact that information often comes from word of mouth – oral instructions for closing restaurants and businesses filtered through the county or neighborhood board level – only add to the misery.
Beijing’s tightening restrictions come as the city is reporting its highest number of daily infections ever, but with around 1,500 cases, the number is still low by standards international.
And nearly three years after the pandemic, health officials’ response seems disproportionate as the rest of the world has learned to live with the virus.
Residents fear a shutdown similar to that of China’s largest city, Shanghai, in the spring, leading to food shortages, protests and chaos as people flee the blockade.
Sanlitun Shopping Center in downtown Beijing, with Western shopping malls and stores now closed, and the densely populated Chaoyang central business district empty.
Hair salons, spas and other services deemed unnecessary for daily life have also been closed.
A former employee at Chaoyang Gymnasium left Beijing after her workplace closed during the outbreak in May, the last time such strict restrictions were imposed.
“The latest wave of Covid has had a great impact on people’s lives, especially those working in the service sector and fitness enthusiasts,” the woman surnamed Xu told AFP.
“The random closure of some PCR testing counters also affects people who need test results in 24 hours to get to work,” she added.
“Many of my former gym colleagues have left Beijing because of lack of pay.”
Meanwhile, in the Dongcheng district, the historic center of the capital, home to numerous imperial relics and government ministries, restaurants are barricaded by tables laden with takeout bags.
An employee at a noodle shop in the Wang district told AFP profits had fallen “99%” since restaurants were ordered to serve only takeout.
“We currently only make a few hundred yuan from takeout delivery every day,” he said.
“I hope the city reopens soon, otherwise we won’t be able to make up for the losses.”

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