China’s COVID-19 restrictions hit historic Beijing theater

Nov 18, 2022, 9:57 PM | Updated: Nov 19, 2022, 7:24 am
People wearing face masks walk in the Wangfujing shopping district in Beijing, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2...

People wearing face masks walk in the Wangfujing shopping district in Beijing, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Performances have been suspended at one of Beijing's oldest and most renowned theaters amid a new wave of shop and restaurant closures in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Chinese capital. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

BEIJING (AP) — Performances have been suspended at one of Beijing’s oldest and most renowned theaters as part of a new wave of shop and restaurant closures in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Chinese capital.

The Jixiang Theater in the downtown Wangfujing shopping district was originally built in 1906 and recently moved to its present location on the 8th floor of a shopping mall that also houses shops and a fast food restaurant. It is famed for performances of Peking opera and other traditional art forms.

Performances were due to resume Nov. 27, but such dates for re-opening have frequently been extended.

China reported 24,263 new cases Saturday, 515 of them in Beijing. The vast majority were asymptomatic.

Despite that, lockdowns and other strict control measures have been put in place around the country, with many Beijing residents sent notices advising them not to leave home unless absolutely necessary.

Restaurants, malls and shops deemed non-essential have been closed and foot traffic in those still open was much reduced. Detection of a single case or even a close contact of an infected person can force the closure of an entire office building or apartment block.

Access to Beijing’s elite Peking University was suspended Wednesday. People who visited a vegetable market in the city’s southeast where a case was found were ordered into quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.

The southern metropolis of Guangzhou plans to build quarantine facilities for nearly 250,000 people. Guangzhou, a city of 13 million people, is the biggest of a series of hot spots across China with outbreaks since early October.

China’s infection numbers are low compared with the United States and other major countries, but the ruling Communist Party is trying to isolate every case under its “zero-COVID” policy.

Repeated closures of neighborhoods, schools and businesses are fueling public frustration and clashes with health workers.

The policy is also inflicting major damage to the economy and global supply chains. Access to a Zhengzhou industrial zone that is home to the world’s biggest iPhone factory was suspended this month following outbreaks. Apple Inc. said deliveries of its new iPhone 14 model would be delayed after workers fled. Local authorities have called for low-level party officials and even military recruits to fill their places, according to reports.

The harsh measures come even as the national government tries to reduce the impact of anti-disease controls that have confined millions of people to their homes, leading to mixed messages and adding to confusion and anger.

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China’s COVID-19 restrictions hit historic Beijing theater