Beijing city tightens Covid vaccine requirements as cases grow nationwide

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Chinese cities like Beijing, pictured here on July 6, 2022, require negative virus tests from within the last 72 hours in order to enter most public spaces.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

BEIJING — China’s capital city is set to require Covid vaccinations for entering gyms and some other venues, the first mandate at such scale in the country.

The vaccine requirement comes after a resurgence in new cases in Beijing, Shanghai and other parts of China in the last week.

Beijing city announced Wednesday that starting Monday, most people need to be vaccinated before entering in-person training centers, sports centers, entertainment venues and other social gathering spots.

The city said the requirement did not apply to people for whom vaccinations were not “suitable,” but said vaccinated people would get priority for entering the above venues. Many spaces operate at a lowered capacity due to Covid restrictions.

Generally only Chinese-made vaccines by Sinopharm or Sinovac are available to the public in China.

Beijing has a relatively high vaccination rate. The city said Wednesday it vaccinated 23.4 million people, including 3.6 million above the age of 60. The capital city said it had nearly 22 million long-term residents as of 2020.

Government events in Beijing have already required attendees to be vaccinated against Covid, while some industries such as taxi services have encouraged or mandated vaccinations as well.

About two months ago, Beijing began requiring people to take virus tests before visiting public spaces.

Similar rules have taken effect in Shanghai and other parts of China, while at least one or two cities have attempted to stop regular virus testing after local case counts dropped. Analysts have noted the high cost of Covid tests and other measures for local governments.

Mainland China reported 94 new Covid cases with symptoms for Wednesday, including 32 in Shanghai and 4 in Beijing.

Other cities have also tightened Covid controls in the last few days.

The central China city of Xi’an announced Tuesday a week-long closure of entertainment and leisure venues, and a ban on dining in person at restaurants.

Shanghai city announced two rounds of mass virus testing from Tuesday to Thursday, and temporary closure of karaoke venues as of Wednesday.

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