April 29, 2020 / 7:40 AM / a month ago

City of Beijing may ease quarantine rules as early as Thursday - sources

A man has his temperature checked while a musician plays the Erhu outside a shop, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Beijing, China, April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

BEIJING (Reuters) - The city of Beijing plans to ease quarantine rules for some domestic travellers from low-risk areas in China as soon as Thursday, according to two sources familiar with the situation, as the Chinese capital prepares for a major political gathering.

People arriving from elsewhere in China will no longer be required to be quarantined for two weeks unless they come from high-risk areas such as Heilongjiang in the north and some parts of Guangdong in the southeast, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the information has not been disclosed publicly.

Beijing’s municipal government did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

Currently, even Chinese citizens who reside in Beijing are not allowed to return home without first quarantining except under special circumstances, and those who refuse to do so or follow official rules to curb the contagion can be punished.

The easing in quarantine rules will not apply for travellers from overseas, the sources said.

Beijing started in March to quarantine all travellers from overseas, including Chinese citizens, at designated locations for 14 days.

As domestic confirmed cases of the virus decline, restrictions across the country have slowly eased. Beijing has not reported any locally-transmitted cases of the virus since April 15.

State media reported on Wednesday that parliament will start its key annual session on May 22, the latest sign that the country is trying to return to business as normal. The gatherings of the National People’s Congress traditionally see more than 5,000 delegates descend on Beijing from all over China for at least 10 days. [nL3N2CH0O9]

Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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