The announcement follows recent street protests in several cities over the strict “zero-COVID” policy now entering its fourth year.

China Rolls Back Strict Anti-COVID-19 Measures on Travel and Production After Mass Protests

In a sharp reversal, China has announced a series of measures rolling back some of its most draconian anti-COVID-19 restrictions, including limiting harsh lockdowns and ordering schools without known infections to resume regular classes.

The National Health Commission in a 10-point announcement on Wednesday stipulated that COVID-19 tests and a clean bill of health displayed on a smartphone app would no longer be required, apart from vulnerable areas such as nurseries, elderly care facilities and schools. It also limited the scale of lockdown to individual apartment floors and buildings, rather than entire districts and neighborhoods.

People who test positive for the virus will be able to isolate at home rather than in overcrowded and unsanitary field hospitals, and schools where there have been no outbreaks must return to in-class teaching.

The announcement follows recent street protests in several cities over the strict “zero-COVID” policy now entering its fourth year, which has been blamed for upending ordinary life, travel and employment while dealing a harsh blow to the national economy.

China has sought to maintain the hardline policy while keeping the world’s second-largest economy humming, but public frustration with the restrictions appears to have finally swayed the opinion of officials who had championed “zero-COVID” as superior to the approach of foreign nations that have opened up in hopes of learning to live with the virus.

“Relevant departments in all localities must further improve their political positions … and resolutely correct the ‘one size fits all’ simplified approach,” the commission said in its statement posted on its website.

Officials, often those at the local level under intense pressure to prevent outbreaks, must “oppose and overcome formalism and bureaucracy, and take strict and detailed measures to protect people’s life safety and health to the greatest extent, and minimize the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development,” the statement said.

Newly reported cases of COVID-19 in China have fallen from a daily record of more than 40,000 in recent days to just 20,764 on Wednesday, the vast majority of them asymptomatic.

Under the new measures, lockdowns can last no longer than five days unless additional cases are discovered, restrictions will be lifted on the sale of cold medications, and vaccinations for the elderly will be stepped up.

Orders for businesses and transport companies to suspend services will be lifted and greater attention will be paid to public safety, with fire exits no longer blocked due to lockdown orders.

The recent protests included calls for leader Xi Jinping to step down. The protests began Nov. 25 after at least 10 people died in a fire in an apartment building in Urumqi in the northwest. Authorities denied suggestions that firefighters or victims were blocked by locked doors or other anti-virus controls. But the disaster became a focus for public frustration.

In its notice, the National Health Commission made no reference to the fire, the protests or any formal end to “zero-COVID,” which has been closely identified with Xi’s authority. The policy has kept most visitors out of China and disrupted manufacturing and global trade.

Officials for days have been gradually rolling back restrictions.

On Monday, commuters in Beijing and at least 16 other cities were allowed to board buses and subways without a virus test in the previous 48 hours for the first time in months.

Industrial centers including Guangzhou near Hong Kong have reopened markets and businesses and lifted most curbs on movement while keeping restrictions on neighborhoods with infections.

The government announced plans last week to vaccinate millions of people in their 70s and 80s, a condition for ending “zero-COVID” restrictions.

Health experts and economists warn it will be mid-2023 and possibly 2024 before vaccination rates are high enough and hospitals are prepared to handle a possible rash of infections.

NEWS RELATED

Royal Family named for 2023 St. Paul Winter Carnival

2023 Aurora, Queen of the Snows Liv Swenson and Boreas Rex LXXXVI Leo E. Lewis are introduced during the 2023 Winter Carnival Royal Coronation at St. Paul RiverCentre on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. The St. Paul Winter Carnival named its 2023 royalty Friday night at the RiverCentre, choosing former ...

View more: Royal Family named for 2023 St. Paul Winter Carnival

Slash talks new book, childhood with Joni Mitchell, how he 'stumbled into' playing guitar, and why Guns N' Roses would probably get 'canceled in this day and age'

Guns N’ Roses guitar god Slash certainly has led a wild life, and if he wanted to pen a juicy memoir filled with the typical topics of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, certainly dozens of publishing houses would make him an offer. Just the acoustic album G N’ R ...

View more: Slash talks new book, childhood with Joni Mitchell, how he 'stumbled into' playing guitar, and why Guns N' Roses would probably get 'canceled in this day and age'

As he lay dying, Neptune shooting victim told girlfriend to get drugs out of the house

FREEHOLD – Randolph Goodman was outgoing, fun and family-oriented, his girlfriend, Shalyce Davis, told a jury Friday. He enjoyed gambling and sports betting, and he also loved cars and would go to auctions to get automobiles to sell, she said. Goodman also sold drugs, Davis said. He was in the ...

View more: As he lay dying, Neptune shooting victim told girlfriend to get drugs out of the house

Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim to meet PM Lee during official visit to Singapore on Jan 30

SINGAPORE – Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim will visit Singapore on Monday, his first official visit to the Republic since he took office on Nov 24. Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said Datuk Seri Anwar, who is also Malaysia’s Minister of Finance, will attend a welcome ceremony at ...

View more: Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim to meet PM Lee during official visit to Singapore on Jan 30

The Kitchen Trend That Over 40% Of Real Estate Agents Say Homebuyers Want More Of In 2023

a kitchen out of focus Those selling their homes are constantly on the hunt for modernizations and tweaks to the property that can help garner increased interest. The real estate market is rife with competition, and buyers, heading into 2023, enjoy the ability to remain picky and cautious. Interest ...

View more: The Kitchen Trend That Over 40% Of Real Estate Agents Say Homebuyers Want More Of In 2023

French Prime Minister declares that raising the minimum retirement age is «non-negotiable».

Archivo – La primera ministra de Francia, Elisabeth Borne – Kay Nietfeld/dpa French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne confirmed on Sunday that the plan to raise the minimum retirement age to 64 is non-negotiable and the result of a necessary consensus to guarantee “the balance of the system” despite strong ...

View more: French Prime Minister declares that raising the minimum retirement age is «non-negotiable».

1 man dead, 4 injured including 2-year-old and 6-year-old in shooting and crash

Four people were shot – including a two-year-old boy – and a six-year-old boy was injured in a crash in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood Saturday evening, according to Baltimore City Police. The incident happened at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Laurens Street a little after 6:30 p.m. Two men were shot ...

View more: 1 man dead, 4 injured including 2-year-old and 6-year-old in shooting and crash

At least 40 passengers ‘burned alive’ in horror bus crash after coach plunges off cliff in Pakistan

AT LEAST 40 people have been 'burned alive' in a horror crash in Pakistan. The vehicle plunged off a cliff into a ravine in the mountainous Bolochistan region of the country and burst into flames in the early hours of Sunday morning. The bus burst into flames after reportedly ...

View more: At least 40 passengers ‘burned alive’ in horror bus crash after coach plunges off cliff in Pakistan

Super Bowl 2023 odds: Who is the favorite after the NFL Divisional Round?

Loved ones, friends and admirers come together in celebration of Jerry Blavat's life

Animal Behaviorist Shares the Heartbreaking and Emotional Reality of Rescuing Dogs

"Doesn't Really Seem Like a Joke Now": His Mother and Her Best Friend Always Had Plans to Get Their Children Together

Queens man faces life in prison for murder of his accomplice during Ozone Park shootout: DA

Shaquille O’Neal hits Nets star Kevin Durant with savage clapback over Rui Hachimura roasting

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Anderson: Time is long past to stop jumping carp from invading more Minnesota rivers

Jennifer Coolidge Says 'Most Fun I've Ever Had at a Wedding' Was for Billie Eilish and Finneas' Parents

How to Get a Girlfriend & Win Her Heart (Figure this Out First)

Man, 34, shot during argument in Lower Manhattan subway, suspect at-large

Suspected drunk driver strikes two teenagers in Bloomington

OTHER NEWS