TAIPEI – The Chinese capital Beijing appears to have backed out of a plan to launch a vaccination mandate for entry into certain public spaces after residents were turned away.
Without explicitly saying he had scrapped the plan, a city official was quoted in state media Thursday night saying people could enter the premises with a negative virus test result and a temperature check, as has been the norm. They also said vaccinations would continue on the principle of “informed and voluntary consent”.
An unidentified Pandemic Control Office official said residents of the city could enter any public place with a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours and a temperature check, according to a court. Q&A message from the official Beijing Daily, the city government’s main newspaper, published late Thursday evening.
The city announced Wednesday that starting next week, people must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before they can enter certain public spaces, including gymnasiums, museums and libraries. It sparked intense discussion as townspeople worried about how the sudden announcement of the policy would disrupt their lives.
A phone call to the Beijing government press office to confirm that the policy change was unsuccessful. The phone had been put into “do not disturb” mode according to a recorded message.
Both online and offline, some have criticized the policy, fearing it will force those who weren’t vaccinated to get vaccinated or lose access to many public spaces. The ad was trending Thursday on Chinese social networking service Weibo.
The government is concerned about the remaining number of unvaccinated people, especially those over the age of 60 who are vulnerable. In April, the government in Beijing announced that more than 80% of people over the age of 60 had received a vaccine, or some 3.4 million people.
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report from Beijing.
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