China’s Xi’an Tightens Restrictions To Crackdown Covid

Story Highlights
  • Xi’an has tightened COVID-19 controls to the “strictest” level.
  • Residents are banned from driving cars except medical emergencies.
  • Each household can only send out one person to buy necessities every 3 days.

China: The locked-down Chinese city of Xi’an has tightened COVID-19 controls to the “strictest” level, banning residents from driving cars around town in an effort to control the country’s worst outbreak in 21 months. Restrictions tightened further on Monday as Xi’an announced it would impose the “strictest social control measures”, according to a city government social media account.

China has stuck to a “zero-COVID” strategy of tight border restrictions, lengthy quarantines and targeted lockdowns as Beijing prepares to welcome thousands of visitors for February’s Winter Olympics. But Xi’an where 13 million residents are facing their fifth day of home confinement is at the centre of a flare-up that has pushed nationwide daily infections to their highest numbers since March 2020. No vehicles are allowed on the roads unless they are assisting with disease control work, the latest announcement said.

Police and health officials will “strictly inspect” cars and those who break the rules could face 10 days’ detention and a fine of 500 yuan ($78). Two other cities in Shaanxi province also reported a case linked to Xi’an, as authorities urged migrant workers from the city not to travel home in the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday. Since locking down the city last week, authorities have launched several rounds of mass testing and placed nearly 30,000 people in hotel quarantine. All non-essential businesses have been closed, while each household can only send out one person to buy necessities every three days.

The Xi’an government has come under fire for its perceived poor handling of the outbreak, with China’s disciplinary body saying last week that 26 local officials had been punished for lapses in virus prevention. Authorities have strictly limited movement into and out of the city, with footage from state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday showing trucks waiting in line at road checkpoints as workers in hazmat suits checked health data on drivers’ mobile phones.

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