Beijing children must take Covid-19 test to play in city's parks

BEIJING • Beijing is tightening its "zero-Covid" rules, mandating that children show a negative test result to enter parks in the Chinese capital.

Children older than three will need to show a green health code on the system that controls people's movements, and a negative Covid-19 result not older than 72 hours, said a statement from the Beijing Municipal Administration Centre of Parks. A green code shows a person has not been in any known high-risk environments.

Previously, children were able to go to parks and other public places without having their test results checked, provided their parents met the requirements for entry.

China is relying on frequent testing to identify and quash transmission chains early, even as its zero-tolerance approach comes under increasing strain from more transmissible variants and isolates it from the rest of the world. While Beijing has contained its recent flare-up without a widespread lockdown, the authorities are under immense pressure to control the situation before the party congress in the second half of the year, when President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a third term as leader.

Getting a test is not particularly onerous, and children have had to participate in previous rounds of mass testing.

China is setting up tens of thousands of booths across the country, initially with a focus on major cities, to meet a pledge to ensure residents will always be only a 15-minute walk away from a swabbing point.

Still, the new rule was seen as extreme even by a population that has been subjected to varying degrees of pandemic curbs. A hashtag linked to the story was one of the top five trending items on China's Twitter-like Weibo yesterday morning, with posters questioning how useful the policy will be.

Children who want to play in parks will now need to swipe their national identification cards or have their health status checked via someone else's phone.

Beijing's most recent cluster was linked to a bar, and there has never been an infection linked to a park.

More than 95 per cent of Chinese children between three and 17 years old are now fully vaccinated, according to the latest data.

Meanwhile, the Universal Beijing Resort theme park is reopening on Saturday after being closed for nearly two months, as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the Chinese capital falls.

The resort said on its official WeChat account that all visitors must show a negative PCR test taken within the past 72 hours and wear masks at all times. It will start selling tickets again today.

The Universal Studios Grand Hotel will resume receiving guests tomorrow, while another hotel, NUO Resort Hotel, will open to the public on July 1.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2022, with the headline Beijing children must take Covid-19 test to play in city's parks. Subscribe