Daily cases in Beijing have remained in the dozens, a tiny fraction of the outbreak in Shanghai and what other cities around the world now shrug off as they look to “live with the virus”.
But with gradually tightening curbs in China’s capital – most recently suspending taxi services in some virus-hit districts – rumours swirled on Thursday that it was headed for lockdown, something Beijing has avoided during the entire pandemic.
There were chaotic scenes inside some supermarkets late on Thursday as residents rushed to stock up on supplies while anxiously listening to Beijing’s daily COVID news conference on their phones. “This is quite unhealthy because people are in a very nervous mood,” said Grace Zhao, who stood in a 50-metre queue outside one supermarket in Chaoyang, Beijing’s most populous district and the epicentre of its current outbreak.
Authorities there have already banned dine-in services at restaurants, closed some malls, entertainment and tourist venues, suspended sections of its bus and subway systems and imposed lockdowns on some residential buildings.