Beijing city walks back plan to tighten Covid vaccine requirements

Beijing city toned down a plan to require Covid vaccinations to enter some public venues, and maintained that a negative virus test was sufficient. Pictured here is a virus testing site in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.

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BEIJING — China’s first large-scale attempt to require Covid vaccinations appears to have ended before it began.

On Wednesday, the capital city of Beijing announced that starting Monday, most people would need to be vaccinated before entering social gathering spots like gyms.

On Thursday, the city removed mention of the mandate, according to the state-run local newspaper, Beijing Daily.

The report cited a member of the city’s virus prevention and control office, who emphasized current rules — a negative virus test from within the last 72 hours — for entering public venues. But the report did not mention the vaccination requirement, only saying the government representative encouraged people to get vaccinated voluntarily.

When contacted by CNBC, a representative for the Beijing city government confirmed the Beijing Daily report. The capital city reported zero new Covid cases for Thursday, with or without symptoms.

The state-run newspaper said it contacted the government office after the vaccination mandate generated “attention and misgivings” among city residents, according to a CNBC translation of the Chinese text.

Beijing Daily’s initial report Wednesday drew many comments on WeChat.

The most popular comments asked how someone would prove they were not “suitable” for Covid vaccinations — especially in complex situations for elderly or pregnant people. Others asked for clarification on which public spaces are classified as “social gathering spots” and whether that includes train stations. Still others noted problems in not being able to integrate vaccination records from Hong Kong or foreign countries into Beijing city’s health code system.

In China, generally only Chinese-made vaccines by Sinopharm or Sinovac are available to the public.

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