You can move freely in China

China is looking for normalcy after the corona crisis : Nothing is like before in the mind

Finally going for a walk again and doing some physical activity is what Ms. Zhang missed most of all during her time at home. Since she was no longer allowed to go shopping and had all things brought to her apartment complex through the neighborhood committee, she was at home with her husband.

Grateful that there was no infection with the new type of coronavirus in the immediate family, but worried about the news they saw every day, she just wants to get some fresh air. Because for more than a week, the virus seems to have been contained. At least if you trust the figures from the Beijing health authority, there are no more new infections in the country.

The 39 new cases, Chinese news reported on Monday, had been brought into the country by returnees. How Beijing managed to contain the virus so quickly will probably never be known. “Now people are just happy that the numbers are falling. You're not asking any questions, ”said Mr. Chen from Beijing when asked why people in China weren't surprised by the numbers.

[You can follow the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic here in the news blog.]

On Monday, people in Wuhan were allowed to leave their residential complexes for the first time in two months and go shopping in the surrounding supermarkets, or just go out onto the streets again; the quarantine is to be lifted completely on April 8.

At the weekend, the first train ran and brought workers from all over Hubei Province to Wuhan. But freedom of movement is still restricted: only those who can show a green QR code on their smartphone are allowed to move freely. If the code shows yellow, for example, you have to report to the authorities and red means you have to stay at home, as you could not be virus-free.

Better to walk for an hour than take the bus

It remains to be seen whether the new measures work or whether people will even accept them. In addition to the color-coded health status, this includes other routines. You may only enter supermarkets, shops or residential complexes if the temperature is measured beforehand.

Public transport is also an important issue. It was not without effort that Chinese state media such as “People's Daily” showed subway staff neatly dressed in purple, who really did clean every corner of the ticket machines and entry barriers. Images of men in protective suits who literally smoke out the subway wagons with disinfectant are circulating on the net. All of this to show the people of Wuhan how safe it is to ride the subway again.

Nevertheless, the wagons remained largely empty on Monday, as in other cities. "Those who can continue to drive their own car, scooter, bike or take a taxi in an emergency, but nobody here wants to use public transport if it doesn't really have to be," reports a 30-year-old from Beijing sometimes prefer to walk to work for an hour so as not to have to use the bus.

With the traffic jams that are now back in downtown Beijing, a bit of normality has returned to everyday life. But even if there are more people on the streets again and the children in the courtyard played football together for the first time on Monday at over 20 degrees without respirators, it doesn't look much different in people's minds than before.

Observations in the nightlife district

“It's safest at home,” says Ms. Li. She lives with her five-year-old daughter, her parents - both over 50 and almost pensioners - and her 75-year-old grandmother on 50 square meters in the heart of Beijing. Sanlitun, Beijing's nightlife district, is just around the corner.

Not only international brands have their flagship stores there, restaurants of all nations are also represented here within a few minutes' walk and hip bars are concentrated within a radius of one kilometer. If you want to experience the Beijing lifestyle, you have to come here and spend an afternoon strolling through the area. Watch as the line in front of the bubble tea shop is coordinated by several security guards. Or watch who the amateur photographers photograph to catch the latest trend.

This is where Ms. Li fits, as befits Beijingers in their 30s. Before the outbreak of the new corona virus, she was often out with friends, exploring the city's hip cafes and then posting photos of herself on WeChat.

Suddenly it went quiet

It's over. No more selfies of the restaurant visits and the food that you had ordered there, no more vacation photos of fancy beaches or hotels, no more pictures of yourself in front of sights at all. In this respect, Ms. Li's WeChat channel is not only similar to that of many other Beijingers. Suddenly it was quiet on the social channels - nationwide.

In addition, it was no longer “hip” to be outside and post pictures of delicious food, overpriced coffee or visiting trendy locations, while more and more people in Wuhan were dying of Covid-19. Ms. Li has hardly posted anything since then. For a while, at the beginning, she tried to offer a couple of respirators through WeChat, but has not posted anything since she's only at home.

And what happens on social networks is reflected in China's economic data. In the first two months of the year, production fell sharply because of radical measures by the Chinese government - closing industries and quarantining millions of people. Not only did production fall by 13.5 percent compared to the same period last year, but also retail sales fell by 20.5 percent in January and February compared to the same period last year, according to the Beijing statistics agency.

The control mania has a new object

The insecurity is not only felt in the population. In the state and party leadership, it has channeled itself into a form of control mania. Since Monday, international flights to Beijing have been diverted to the neighboring province and passengers have to go to designated hotels in quarantine at their own expense. For those who were allowed to go into self-quarantine at home because they came into the country two weeks ago, surveillance cameras were sometimes installed in front of the front door to make sure that they were sticking to the rules.

There is great fear that people arriving from abroad could cause the number of infections to rise again. So big that racism and even more surveillance are accepted for it. Previously, people from Wuhan and Hubei had to be avoided, but foreign-looking people are now being avoided.

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