Covid in China: What restrictions remain as Chinese New Year nears?

There were 54 new cases on Thursday and no new reported deaths Credit: PA

China is heading into the Lunar New Year with heightened restrictions, despite reporting a decrease in new Covid-19 cases over recent days.

There were 54 new cases on Thursday and no new reported deaths.

Last Tuesday, the country reported 118 new cases, most of them in the northeast provinces of Hebei (which neighbours Beijing), Heilongjiang and Jilin. As a result, lockdowns and travel bans were implemented in those areas.

As the annual getaway, 'Chunyun', begins, people have been discouraged from travelling to their home towns for Chinese New Year, which is due to start on February 12.

How have people's daily lives been impacted by the new measures and what's life like in the country that was once the epicentre of the respiratory disease?

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Authorities have told all citizens not to travel and adhere to lockdown rules in order to curb the spread of the virus in the 11 most-impacted regions. Chinese New Year begins on February 12 and many families would usually be starting to think about heading to their hometown.

The government has asked people not to travel for this important celebration, meaning many Chinese families will have now been apart for more than 12 months. Those in less affected regions can travel freely within them but they are not permitted to visit higher risk areas.

Anyone travelling from a higher risk region to a lower risk one will be quarantined for 14 days and tested before the quarantine ends. 

The latest regulation imposed on Thursday requires anyone arriving in Beijing to have had a test within the last seven days and if they intend to stay, they must get tested again every week for two weeks. All of that is monitored through the health codes on their phones which are already set to become a permanent feature of living and working in China.

Leisure and hospitality

In cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan restaurants, gyms, pubs and hairdressers are open. Social distancing is generally not adhered to but everyone wears a mask and they are mandatory in all shops. To enter a restaurant, shop or airport you must scan a health code, and you are only granted access with a generated green QR code on your smart phone. If you'd been to or near an area with tougher restrictions, the code would go red.

People need to scan QR codes to enter various establishments. Credit: PA


The country's workers returned to offices far soon than the UK, with many back in the office last spring. At the entrance to office buildings there are electronic temperature checks which use facial recognition technology, similar to what we now see at airports.


In the region of Liaoning schools were told to close for their winter holiday a week early due to an outbreak in the region. Schools elsewhere have now gone on holiday, too.

Covid Testing

Anyone who tests positive for the virus - with or without symptoms - has to go into centralised quarantine, in specially designated hospitals or hotels. They will be kept there for a minimum of two weeks and will have home isolation thereafter.