Beijing authorities appear to have rescinded a planned vaccine mandate after popular outcries, scrapping what would have been mainland China’s first and only universal vaccine requirement.
Beijing announced Wednesday that people would be required to show proof of vaccination before entering some public facilities in response to an Omicron subvariant outbreak, according to the South China Morning Post. Complaints about the intended policy circulated online, and the government’s announcement was trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo, according to The Associated Press.
State officials said Thursday that Beijing residents will be able present negative COVID-19 tests and undergo temperature checks when entering buildings, a continuation of previous policy, according to local news outlet Beijing Daily, the AP reported.
The mandate was intended to apply to entertainment venues, gyms and training locations, according to SCMP. While it did not explicitly include office buildings, some employers announced they would require employees to comply with the mandate, SCMP reported.
Officials have not officially reversed the mandate as of Friday, but the unnamed official said in the interview with Beijing Daily that a “voluntary” vaccination policy would continue, SCMP reported.
The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China appeared to acknowledge that authorities had canned the plan to impose a vaccine mandate.
“The European Chamber is disappointed that the Beijing Government reversed the important policy to mandate vaccinations for Beijing citizens announced just one day previously, as vaccines are the most effective way to protect people’s health,” the European Chamber said in a statement Friday.
Beijing government data released in April showed that 20% of people over 60, or 3.4 million people, had not been vaccinated, according to the AP.
We’re still living with #COVID19. Don’t wait until cases are on the rise again before getting all of your recommended vaccine doses. Your health is precious.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) July 7, 2022
“That [the mandate] was rescinded within 24 hours suggests the plan had not been well conceived and communicated,” the European Chamber said, suggesting the widespread dissatisfaction with the mandate stemmed from a “lack of consultation with key stakeholders on the policy and the absence of a broad communication campaign.”
“The Chamber is now very concerned that this sudden policy U-turn will discourage other cities in China from pursuing an effective vaccination campaign that will protect the population from a virus that is simply not going away,” European Commerce President Joerg Wuttke said in a statement.
Chinese authorities have warned municipal governments against changing the voluntary vaccination policy, Reuters reported.
Shanghai implemented a severe lockdown policy earlier in April, which resulted in food shortages and public outrage.
A representative from the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau hung up when the Daily Caller News Foundation attempted to contact the office.
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