China eases more virus restrictions as 'zero COVID' policy remains

China eased some lockdown measures last week after the protests.

Updated: December 5, 2022 - 3:23pm

China on Monday walked back more of the world's most stringent COVID-19 restrictions but has yet to announce an end to the "zero COVID" strategy as the country deals with ongoing protests. 

For the first time in months, residents in Beijing and at least 16 other Chinese cities were able to board public transportation Monday without providing proof of a negative virus test from the previous 48 hours, The Associated Press reported.

Markets and businesses have reopened in industrial centers such as Guangzhou. Limitations on movement are being lifted, but restrictions are still in place in neighborhoods with infected residents. 

Protests erupted late last month after 10 people died in an apartment fire in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi. Demonstrators blamed COVID lockdown measures for a slow response to the fire.

China eased some lockdown measures last week, such as no longer blocking access to buildings with COVID-positive tenants in some areas. The change in rules comes after protesters demanded for President Xi Jinping to resign.

The most recent protests happened on Sunday when Wuhan University students demanded the ability to travel freely, according to the Chinese outlet New Tang Dynasty Television, as translated.

However, Chinese officials have not signaled an end to the "zero COVID" restrictions, which have kept millions of people isolated at home for months at a time.