COVID-19 Sends Northern Chinese City Into Semi-Shutdown

By Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.
September 22, 2021 Updated: September 22, 2021

The Chinese regime has tightened travel restrictions and increased orders for mass testing in its northeastern city of Harbin since Sept. 21 amid a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases.

An estimated 10 million residents in Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang, have received a new stay-at-home order. Authorities told them to avoid all non-essential travel. People who apply to leave the city must present a negative test result of CCP virus taken no more than 48 hours before departure. The CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, is the pathogen that causes COVID-19.

Prior to entry into another city, Harbin residents must report to authorities in the destination city 24 hours in advance, according to similar notices released by several cities across the country. Those who had been to Harbin during the previous 14 days are required to report to local departments or companies they work for, receive nucleic acid tests, and go into quarantine, a Monday statement from southeast China’s Hunan Province read.

Authorities in Harbin reported eight new cases on Sept. 22, which are all close contacts of the first three cases confirmed the day before, according to the municipal government. The figure is likely not to reflect the actual total, given that the Chinese regime is known to grossly underreport its virus numbers.

Harbin has implemented the regime’s strict virus containment strategy, including mass testing, mandatory quarantines, and the closure of entertainment venues.

Indoor venues such as cinemas, gyms, and mah-jong parlors were also shut, and tourist sites were ordered to limit visitor traffic at half of their capacity, state television reported on Tuesday.

A local resident surnamed Li told The Epoch Times that supermarkets still open but require customers to scan health codes and check their temperatures before entering.

“Now everyone has to do nucleic acid tests,” she said on Sept. 22. “The dark days are back.”

The authorities vowed to complete an initial round of city-wide testing in 48 hours. Those who haven’t been tested will see their health codes turn amber, Ke Yunnan, the deputy director of the city’s health commission said at a Tuesday press conference.

The Chinese regime had adopted color-based QR code systems utilizing big data and mobile technology to control people’s movements. The system assigns citizens three codes on mobile phones, including a health code, an itinerary code, and a vaccination code.

The colors amber or red restrict people from leaving home, taking buses, trains or planes, and entering supermarkets and restaurants.

The city has also suspended offline classes at all kindergartens, primary schools, and high schools for a week from Wednesday.

Bayan county, where the first three confirmed cases lived, suspended bus and taxi services and locked down some areas.

Song Mei (pseudonym), living in a town of Bayan county, said that she had received orders to shut her restaurant due to the latest outbreak. She said it’s unknown when the restaurant could reopen.

She told The Epoch Times on Tuesday that authorities have sealed off all roads in the town and sent close contacts to quarantine.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.