onsdag 4. mars 2020

Beijing Diary: Defending the capital, 1 meter at a time

Signs cropping up in Beijing's Guomao central business district call for "1-meter action." The idea is that people should keep at least 1 meter of separation between themselves and others in public places, to reduce coronavirus infections.The capital has seen few new virus cases in recent days, probably because it has some of the strictest epidemic control measures in the country.

Gradually, the authorities are encouraging people to go back to work. This is evident in Guomao, where more pedestrians are out and about. Nearly half the restaurants have reopened for lunch. Not long ago, the district was like a ghost town. Even so, it seems unnecessary to tell people to stay 1 meter apart when, overall, the city is still so quiet. Only lovers walk close together.

Although officials are urging a return to work, they are also instructing offices to keep occupancy at less than 50% of normal times. On Tuesday, meanwhile, Beijing ordered everyone returning from South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan to stay quarantined for 14 days. The government does not appear to be loosening its grip.