qliu2_Liu RanyangChina News Service via Getty Images_chinacovid Liu Ranyang/China News Service via Getty Images

China After Zero-COVID

Ending nearly three years of severe restrictions will bring an uptick in cases and deaths, creating political challenges for the government. But doing so is essential to restore the economic growth that underpins Communist Party's legitimacy.

BEIJING – China’s ability to execute major policies is always impressive, and the 180-degree turn on the zero-COVID strategy that it had been enforcing almost religiously for nearly three years is no exception. Virtually overnight, the government began tearing down once-ubiquitous COVID-19 testing centers. State media started emphasizing that the symptoms of the Omicron variant are very mild. Residents of many cities were suddenly released from lockdown: people in Guangzhou, for example, can now go from home quarantine to a karaoke bar within two hours.

The post-COVID era has arrived in China. What now?

As drastic quarantine rules become a thing of the past, Chinese people will be able to resume something like their pre-pandemic lives. They will return to their offices, shop in department stores, dine in restaurants, and visit parks and temples – all without taking daily COVID tests or fearing a mandatory sojourn in a quarantine center.

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Correction Dec 8, 2022 14:51UTC

In the eleventh paragraph, the CPC Congress took place in October, not November.