China tightens COVID-19 restrictions ahead of Beijing Olympics

Chinese officials appear nervous about a potential case surge just weeks before the games' opening ceremony.
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2022 Winter Olympics
Opening ceremonies at 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing
(Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng via Getty Images)

China has again tightened its pandemic restriction measures in Beijing and elsewhere as outbreaks of COVID-19 continue ahead of the Winter Olympic Games, set to begin in just over two weeks.

Children attending international schools in Beijing will be tested beginning next week, and airline travelers who had layovers will be banned from entering the city. Residents of the massive metro area are being told to travel only if they absolutely must, though they are not being guaranteed reentry if it is discovered that they visited a spot where cases are surging.

Tianjin, a city about an hour outside of Beijing will begin its third round of mass testing on Saturday morning. Residents of the manufacturing hub are already in lockdown, as are individuals in a half dozen other cities. Currently, all travel between Tianjin and Beijing has been suspended. 

In Xi'an, a northern city where residents have been under lockdown since before Christmas, citizens have been told that their credit scores will be unaffected if they are unable to make loan payments on time while in lockdown.

The country has additionally banned a number of overseas flights from Europe, Canada, and the U.S. following positive virus tests for passengers aboard flights from those locations. 

China has maintained a policy of tracking down every case of the virus in the country, a measure the country's government says has, thus far, kept the virus from spreading into a full-fledged outbreak. Of course, members of the global community have called into doubt much of what Chinese officials claim to be the reality of the virus in their country.