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Beijing city closes gyms and bans dining in as Covid controls tighten

As part of the latest Covid controls, China’s capital city of Beijing banned in-store dining as a five-day holiday kicked off, prompting restaurants to sell food outside.

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

BEIJING — Two months since China’s latest Covid outbreak began, many businesses in the country’s two largest cities by GDP face new or existing constraints on operations.

Over the weekend, the capital city of Beijing closed theme parks and banned dining in restaurants to control Covid — just as a five-day holiday got underway. During the holiday last year, domestic tourism revenue nationwide had more than doubled from the prior year, according to official figures.

Universal Beijing Resort closed Sunday until further notice. All gyms, entertainment and live performance venues, internet cafes and other indoor sports facilities are to close for the holiday, which officially runs through Wednesday, the city government said.

A major luxury mall in the city said Friday it would close temporarily due to Covid-related restrictions.

Meanwhile, Shanghai, which has been subject to the some of the most stringent citywide lockdowns, showed some signs of easing restrictions over the last few days.

The city announced Saturday it added 1,188 more companies to a whitelist for resuming production. For the initial list announced in mid-April of 666 companies — including 247 foreign-funded ones — more than 80% had resumed work, the city said.

Before the second list came out, the EU Chamber of Commerce in China said the whitelist “is a promising sign for Shanghai’s bounce back.”

But truck driver shortages and getting shifts of workers between factory bubbles and their homes remained a challenge, said Bettina Schoen-Behanzin, the chamber’s vice president and Shanghai chair. She estimated Friday that supply chain and logistics challenges would last until the end of June.

As of Monday, the number of people in Shanghai subject to the strictest stay-home orders fell to 2.5 million, down from 5.3 million four days earlier, according to official figures. On Sunday, municipal authorities announced six regions of Shanghai had contained the virus at a community level, but not most of the downtown areas of the city.

The city said it has been building out sites for regular virus testing.

For Monday, mainland China reported a drop in new Covid cases with symptoms, to 368 versus closer to 1,000 or far more in recent weeks. Shanghai reported the most cases with symptoms, at 274, while Beijing came second with 51 new cases with symptoms.

While residents are not allowed to leave parts of the city under lockdown, businesses in other areas generally remain open to those with a negative virus test from within the last 48 hours.

Beijing has been conducting multiple rounds of mass testing in the last week. It also announced weekly tests would be required after the holiday to take public transit or go to public areas like supermarkets.

On Sunday, the city announced the opening of a centralized quarantine facility with 1,200 beds.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC.

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