China ramps up livelihood, economic support amid COVID-19 control

Local governments across China are rolling out policies to support businesses and residents amid the ongoing COVID-19 control.
China ramps up livelihood, economic support amid COVID-19 control

Delivery workers pick up goods at a logistics station of online grocery platform by Meituan in Beijing, China, on November 23, 2022.

Local governments across China are rolling out policies to support businesses and residents amid the ongoing COVID-19 control, allowing virus-hit supermarkets to reopen sooner and reducing operating costs for struggling companies.

The Chinese capital Beijing promised to expedite the reopening of shopping malls and supermarkets that sell livelihood-related products, as the latest effort to ensure the smooth operation of the city and the market while striving to corral the outbreak.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday, Beijing municipal government spokesperson Xu Hejian said that such business outlets, if affected by the COVID-19 cases, are allowed to reopen after one day of required closure and disinfection, and will not be closed for more than three days.

Responding to public concerns, the Beijing government will rev up support for residents who have to leave their closed-off compounds to seek medical services, Xu said. Garbage from high-risk areas will be taken care of, the official added.

Municipal officials also said they had directed major e-commerce companies to stock up with three to five times the usual level of supplies so as to stabilize prices.

On Friday, Beijing reported 586 locally transmitted confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,009 locally transmitted asymptomatic cases. The latest outbreak has seen many restaurants and shops closed and residents advised to reduce unnecessary outings.

In southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, which has registered more than 60,000 infections since November 1, authorities organized retail companies to set up temporary stands outside the residential complexes that were under closed-off management.

The government is also negotiating with e-commerce platforms to increase supplies while helping retailers resume business online after the closure of their physical shops, said Zhang Yongwu, head of the Chongqing municipal commission of commerce.

The Ministry of Commerce has pledged greater efforts to ensure the supply of daily necessities, especially for residents in areas hit hard by the COVID-19 resurgence.

Ministry spokesperson Shu Jueting said that the ministry will continue to monitor the prices of necessities on a daily basis, arrange the release of meat reserves, and improve cross-regional coordination to ensure supplies.

At present, the market supply of daily necessities across the country is generally sufficient, and the wholesale prices of pork, eggs and vegetables have all dropped from the levels at the beginning of the month, Shu added.

Bolstering business

The raft of supportive measures also come after a State Council meeting called for stabilizing the economy in the fourth quarter, believed to be crucial for the economic performance of the whole year.

Noting this year's complicated economic situation due to COVID-19 and other factors, the meeting promised efforts to boost consumption, including support for the platform-based economy and express delivery networks. Sustained efforts were also pledged to ensure smooth transportation and logistics.

The city of Xiamen in southeast China's Fujian Province has announced tax reductions for struggling companies and cuts in employees' basic medical insurance premiums without compromising the benefits.

Zhejiang Province in east China also rolled out a raft of measures to support catering consumption, including plans to hold more promotion activities and relax restrictions on street stands. The city of Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, has issued shopping coupons to boost its nightlife economy.

"Market entities, especially medium, small and micro enterprises, are looking forward to the realization of the supportive policies," said Long Haibo, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Local governments are speeding up the refinement and implementation of the supportive policies, which will help stabilize the supply chain and the basic economic market, said Long.

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