COVID Restriction Protests Heat Up in China

On December 3rd protesters in China began flooding the streets. They marched until police met them with force, attempting to shut down the peaceful protests with violence. The crowds dissipated, hopeful that they made an impact. The stress of heavily enforced zero-Covid policies had impacted everyone.

To the shock of many, it worked. One week after the protests began to calm, China eased multiple restrictions including requiring a negative test to enter a store or restaurant, allowing people to self-isolate in their homes rather than the large containment buildings China has been using, and easing some mask policies. 

In China, there have been incredibly strict, no tolerance policies on Covid-19, reminiscent of early 2020. Unlike in most countries, China differed in the way they treated people diagnosed. Rather than having themselves quarantined, they were sent into a large building with any other patients. There, they would wait until they were asymptomatic and tested negative. China also required testing to be done regularly and proof of negative tests before entering any establishment. Although that was common in most countries during their individual peaks, China has kept this requirement until the week of December 3rd, when the protests began.

After two years of unrelenting COVID policies, the people of China were anxious and stressed. No one was allowed in public without a mask, the six-foot rule still in place, and fear of being put into a containment center if they caught COVID was a lot to handle for so long a period of time. These were still relaxed versions of the original restrictions, when people were locked in their homes for two months regardless of health or money. Although in 2022, most countries eased restrictions on masks, grouping, and testing, China continued in an attempt to keep its country safe. Millions of people marched through the streets of 17 cities, chanting that they wanted change. The protests lasted about a week.

Just as protests were ceasing, China reported that they would be lowering some of their policies on COVID-19. People would no longer be sent to quarantine chambers, allowed to be outside maskless, and testing restrictions were loosened.

Although the Chinese government has not said whether these changes were related to the protests, it is clear that they were. It was a great success for the people of China, and may they only have the same restrictions that apply to rest of the world soon.