TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China’s capital has issued a mandate requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations before they can enter certain public spaces, including gymnasiums, museums and libraries, with exceptions only available to those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons.
The health app that shows a person’s latest PCR test results has been updated to make their vaccination status easier to find, according to Li Ang, spokesperson for the Beijing municipal health commission.
The list of public places requiring vaccination does not include restaurants and offices. The mandate will come into effect on Monday.
“In normalizing COVID-19 pandemic controls, getting vaccinated remains the most effective measure to control the spread of COVID-19,” Li said in an announcement Wednesday.
More than 23 million people in Beijing have been vaccinated, Li said, which if accurate would cover the city’s entire population and more. A 2020 census found that Beijing was home to some 22 million long-term residents. It is unclear what makes the difference in the numbers. The Beijing government did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment on the new measures.
Li said more than 3.6 million people over the age of 60 have been vaccinated. He did not say whether they had received two or three shots.
A vaccination mandate is not unusual, and some major cities in the United States have required proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and bars at some point during the pandemic.
However, these mandates did not include spaces like libraries. Few places in the United States now actively require proof of vaccination for entry. Most US cities have also rolled back social distancing measures that were implemented in the first year of the pandemic. Some spaces, such as hospitals, still require proof of vaccination.
In Beijing and other cities across China, many government facilities already require people to show proof of vaccination before entering.
Online, the announcement sparked anger and pointed questions. Social media users wondered how to get a certificate that one was unsuitable for vaccination, whether unvaccinated people could take the subway and other logistical aspects of the new requirement.
Chen Yumei, a 48-year-old Beijing resident, said she had not yet been vaccinated because she suffered from hives which doctors said made her unfit.
“A lot of doctors told me I couldn’t, but who’s going to certify me for an exception? No one dares to give you this certification,” she said.
“Something like that is too unreasonable,” Chen said. “We have already cooperated with PCR testing, no matter how hot or how long the line is.”
Another Beijing resident, Leo Zhang, said he wasn’t sure if the new policy meant he had to get a booster or if two doses were enough. He plans to get vaccinated as a result.
“At least for me, it doesn’t have a big impact, it’s just a reminder,” said Zhang, who regularly hits the gym.
Others on social media shared an article from Xinhua, an official state media, last year that quoted National Health Commission officials banning local governments from coming up with policies that prevent people from living. enter places like supermarkets without proof of vaccination.
It is unclear how Beijing’s new directive will be implemented given national politics. Additional requirements are already in place for medical workers, delivery people and public transport workers, all of whom must be fully vaccinated.
Associated Press press assistant Caroline Chen and researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report from Beijing.