The year 2022 has been filled with twists and turns, making us all the more ready to bid it farewell. We’re taking a look back at the best and worst of times in the capital from this year that was.
As with 2021, the most-read stories of the year happened to be Covid-related. Seeing as a lot changed this year with Covid and epidemic rules and all that, we’re focusing on a few key viral virus stories among the top articles from our blog and WeChat.
Beijing’s First Omicron Case Linked to a Package
The Omicron variant landed in Beijing in January thanks to a package shipped from abroad, according to local authorities. The infected individual went on to spread the virus to a few major spots around the capital, although no major outbreaks happened until later in the year…
Michelin Releases 2022 Beijing Restaurants List
Big news for F&B came in the form of Michelin releasing their 2022 Restaurant Guide for Beijing. Thirty-four restaurants made it onto the 2022 list, up by four from the previous year. These included one-star awards for the likes of Furong, Ling Long and Opera Bombana. Meanwhile, King’s Joy and Xin Rong Ji (Xinyuan South Road) both maintained their three stars.
Beijing Sees Worst Day for Traffic in Five Years in February
Beijing saw a lot of congestion – in regards to traffic, not crappy sinuses – starting at 6.45am on Feb 21. This was thanks to two things: school starting back up and special lanes for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics remaining closed to the public, according to Beijing Daily. Speaking of Olympics…
Watching the Olympics in Lieu of Tickets for Ordinary Folks
After months of rumors, hopes for tickets being made available for the Winter Olympics were dashed following the announcement that the Games would not be open to spectating for the general public due to Covid concerns. Thankfully, streaming was available on a few Chinese and international platforms, and a number of Beijing bars and restaurants hosted regular watch events as well.
Mild Covid Cases to No Longer Be Hospitalized
Signs of changing attitudes on Covid rules and restrictions first cropped up in March, with the announcement that individuals experiencing mild Covid infections would no longer be hospitalized. The decision came from the National Health Commission due to the fact that those infected with the Omicron variant were less likely to become seriously ill, meaning hospital beds could be reserved for those who needed them most.
Visiting the Liangma River in Covid Times
Hopes of a change in direction for China’s Zero Covid policy was short lived, though, with citywide lockdowns coming in May that included a ban on in-house dining at restaurants. These bans were eventually circumvented in the easiest way possible: People just ate and gathered outside, especially along the Liangma River.
But this only worked to irk authorities more, with areas of the waterway being cordoned off at random and health kit checkpoints being set up at entry points. The barriers and checkpoints didn’t do much damage, though, as we discovered when visiting there one afternoon. It turns out visiting the “Seine of Beijing” wasn’t all that difficult after all.
A Long-Awaited Resumption to Indoor Dining
After a month of indoor dining restrictions and lockdowns, Beijing came back to life in June with news that indoor dining bans would be lifted for all areas of the city except Fengtai and parts of Changping, and that in-office work would resume. The news was also accompanied by changes to testing rules, with 72-hour NAT results required for entry to most places.
China Changes Quarantine Rules From 14+7 to 7+3 Days
The second sign of China’s scaling back Covid rules came in late June, with the country’s State Council releasing guidelines reducing quarantine and at-home health monitoring times from 14 days quarantine and seven days at-home monitoring to seven days quarantine and three days at home. This was eventually changed to 3+7 near the end of the year, with quarantine requirements to be dropped entirely come Jan 8.
The Saga of Nali Patio
Not all was well in late June, though, with the sudden word that restaurant and nightlife space Nali Patio, situated right behind Sanlitun Taikooli, would be changing management. The announcement first led to worries that the complex would be shut entirely, and fears grew when the outgoing landlord brought in a demolition crew to tear down sections of the complex while many restaurants were still operating.
Thankfully, the handover came to pass, the demolition crews disappeared, and although Nali Patio lost a few of its venues, most have remained and it’s now looking as good as ever.
Universal Studios and Sanlitun Closures Spark Fears of New Lockdowns
The sudden closure of Universal Studios Resort Beijing and Sanlitun’s Courtyard No. 4 a few days before Halloween following the discovery of a handful of confirmed Covid cases in the two spots came as a shock after months of no big Covid news. While Courtyard No. 4 reopened the next day, Universal Studios remained closed a little while longer.
A Look Into Covid After an Unexpected Reopening
Following what looked like a repeat of Spring “soft lockdowns” in the capital – complete with random community-level lockdowns and more in-house dining bans – China finally made an about-face and began the process of dropping Zero Covid altogether. This of course led to a sudden uptick in cases around the capital and all across China, but since authorities also stopped publishing official case numbers, people were conveniently left in the dark as to the true state of spread.
We conducted a few polls on our Safe & Sane WeChat groups to find out who had gotten sick after Dec 1. A first round found that over 58 percent of respondents had gotten ill after Dec 1, while a second survey, conducted on Dec 22, found over 70 percent had gotten ill after Dec 1.
Despite this and other issues like medicine shortages, the end of 2022 is finally seeing the city come back to life after three years of Zero Covid. It’ll be interesting to see what 2023 brings, but here’s hoping it’ll be a good year.
Images: Global Times, Shutterstock, Unsplash, CFFC, Katie Coy, Mr. Chugs